By Judith Remy Leder

A man I love, a man as distant as
Andromeda, drove me to the airport.
We spoke of common interests:
the seminar, one of our colleagues,
his wife—who needs orthotics. I want
to shatter his quiet reserve. Old as I am.
Old as he is.

We drive along a busy thoroughfare.
A figure on the roadside falls.
She doesn’t bounce back up and laugh
at her graceless plop. She cowers—awkward,
ineffectual, crumpled behind a parked car.
We stop. I run to ask if I can help.
This is no girl but a woman weathered
hard with heartbreak. Her tongue
flicks in and out, eager to test the air
without words. Hair lank, clothes worn,
teeth gone. Her eyes don’t meet mine.
Mental problems, I think. The fall has
shaken her, but with help she stands.
We walk half a block to a tacky spa.
I say, “This woman took a spill; she
needs to sit a while and catch her breath.”
The staff finds no way to refuse this
small respite. I walk back to the car,
my random act of kindness done,
the woman fades from my thoughts.
My friend says nothing, asks nothing.
I have disappeared, like the fallen woman.

"Falling with grace" by Patty O'Hearn Kickham

“Falling with grace” by Patty O’Hearn Kickham

Judith Remy Leder is a retired Irish-American academic whose work has appeared in a 2011 chapbook (Becoming a Marmoset); a 2013 book of poetry (Tiger Woman, Pluribelle Press); and in Fre&d (2013 and 2014). In October 2012, she was Poet of the Month on the Moontide Press website (www.moontidepress.com).