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The Work of Love

for Dale Ritterbusch

Here I was in Budapest, alone
upon a bridge above the Danube
on an evening so seductive
anyone might fall in love
as easily as falling off a log,

even me: gray-haired, half-deaf,
overweight, bad eyes and all.
The falling sun suffused the air
with fire, clouds aglow, the buildings
and the river, and the whole wide sky

slowly fading into pastel pink
and pale orange of poetry and dreams.
I didn't even notice her approach
until she touched my arm and asked
if I enjoyed what I was seeing.

I said yes, then turned and saw-
how shall I explain-a woman
half my age and lovely, maybe younger,
soft as baby's breath, eyes alive
with every possibility

an aging man's imagination
could conceive: faery princess,
Magyar goddess, Eve before the Fall
until she murmured in my ear,
"You may have me, if you wish."

W. D. Ehrhart is author of 14 books and 10 chapbooks, most recently Sleeping with the Dead from Adastra Press. An ex-Marine sergeant and a 1973 graduate of Swarthmore College, he lives in Philadelphia with his wife Anne and daughter Leela and teaches English and history at the Haverford School.