“What are you doing? What is that?”
The boy was no older than 7, no younger than 5. He was running in the thick grass of the park, with another boy, who kept running, so he was breathing heavy when he saw the man at the bench and came to a halt.
“It’s a poem. I’m writing it now.”
The man was no older than 40, no younger than 33. He sipped tea from a thermos, the steam rising in the morning sun.
“What’s a po-em?” the boy’s eyebrows shifted around.
The man thought for a moment. When he was younger, he would rarely pause before answering any question, as if the response was being timed for efficiency. Now he paused too much. It was too much for his partner, anyway. She often made a circular hand motion when he paused, as if to say, “Get on with it.”
“A poem…is a dream in words. A word dream.”
“What? That’s crazy. My dreams don’t have words.”
“Usually not, no. But sometimes they have people speaking in them…well…a poem is a spider web of thoughts, all connected, but easily undone.”
The boy looked out toward the vista, the city below this hillside park. His lips pursed together in contemplation.
“I like poems,” the boy concluded.
“We need them,” the man said.
The boy ran off again, around the trunk of the old Cypress and out of sight.
“We need them,” the man said quietly, as if speaking to the universe.