I Think I Saw You

I think I saw you,
Last night,
Walking down the river path,

You were carrying the umbrella I got you
For your last birthday
The one with dragonflies.
And I wondered,
Why carry an umbrella in the night?
When the sky is clear,
And the only thing raining is starlight.

Perhaps I didn’t see you.
Perhaps it was someone like you.
Why should I trust the evidence of my own eyes?
Or even my ears?

Last week I thought I saw a dragon,
With gleaming bronze scales and translucent wings,
A dragon wearing a gold choker,
And carrying an old fashioned lorgnette,
Sitting on the meadow,
By the river
He or perhaps it was she
Regarded me through the glass,
Not with hostility but with interest.
The same way I look at specimens through the microscope
He or perhaps it was she,
Greeted me
In a nasal voice,
And in surprisingly good English

So why should I trust my eyes?
Or even my ears?
When I see dragons
And hear them talking to me.

It couldn’t have been you I saw.
How can I see you?
It is not possible
I was the first one to throw in a handful of soil,
Black and moist,
It had rained the night before.

But perhaps it was you.
Perhaps I did see a dragon in a choker and heard him – or her – greet me,
In a nasal voice,
And in grammatical English.
Perhaps when I went up to the attic two nights ago,
To look for something
I’ve forgotten what,
I actually stepped into a glade,
Bisected by a stream,
And ringed by trees.
A place of dreams,
Except that I was not dreaming.
I pinched myself, but didn’t wake up.
I felt the wind in my face,
And the long grass brushing against my legs.
When I knelt by the stream and put my hand in,
The water rippled over my fingers,
Carrying with them
A hint of snow.

Perhaps seeing you was like going into the attic and finding a pastoral scene,
A scene out of a picture I remember from somewhere.
Perhaps what I saw was not you,
But my memory of you.

Then where is the umbrella?
The umbrella with dragonflies,
My last birthday present
For you?
I looked for it in all the likely places,
And unlikely places too.
I took a day off,
They were very nice about it at the school.
Of course I didn’t tell them why.
If I did,
They wouldn’t have laughed at me or told me I was mad.
They would have given me tea, told me to take a holiday, two weeks, even a month.
And the moment I left,
They would have called someone in the family
And said get help.
Before it is too late. .

That was why I didn’t tell them,
That I needed a day at home,
To look for the umbrella,
Which wasn’t there.

Is the umbrella with you?
Did I really see you carrying the umbrella with dragonflies,
And heading towards your new home?
The patch of lawn by the river,
Surrounded by frangipani trees.

This morning, I didn’t see your tote,
The red leather one,
In its usual place,
On your work desk,
Right next to your laptop,
Where I had placed it,
The day I returned home,
After identifying you,
After drinking the tea they forced on me,
Carrying the bundle of things they gave me.
Personal effects, they called it.

I know no one took the tote.
I saw it when I was looking for the umbrella,
Sitting on your work desk,
Right where I put it,
That night.

So where is the tote?

Tonight I will stand by the gate,
And if I see you again,
Carrying the umbrella with dragonflies,
And the red leather tote,
Then I will know it is you, really you.
Would it then mean that I actually saw a dragon?
And that the door to our attic can sometimes open into another world?

Tonight I will stand by the gate,
And if I see you again,
Carrying the umbrella,
And the tote,
I will walk behind you,
Down the road, take the turn to the left,
Along the river path,
Until we reach the green patch,
Surrounded by frangipani trees.

Will you then turn around,
Look me in the eye,
That special smile you kept for me,
And tell me
What this is all about?

If you can unravel
The mystery of the dragon,
Would it then mean
You also know
The name of the mushrooms
I tended with such loving care
In the back garden?
The blood red ones with butter yellow spots.
If you can unravel
The mystery of the world behind the attic door,
Would it then mean
That you know
Where that taste you complained about
In the coffee came from?
The coffee I made for you.





Sam Muller is a literary fledgling who is working on her first novel. A short story by her appears in Third Flatiron‘s Fall/Winter anthology.