She was two blocks in front of me when I spotted her. I couldn’t see her face, but something about the way she walked made me think she was someone I knew, and it seemed important that I should catch up to her and have a friendly conversation, which seems to happen so rarely these days. I quickened my pace, almost running, but when I had reduced the distance between us to a single block, a car turned in front of me and cut me off, and then there was more traffic, so I had to wait as I watched her receding in the distance, leaving me behind all over again. When at last I was able to make it through the crosswalk, starting to run this time, she turned onto a side street and I couldn’t see her anymore. I broke into a sprint, rounded the corner and there she was, gazing into a store window, absorbed by the sight of two mannequins, one male, one female, standing close to each other and wearing beautiful clothes not unlike her own, and I nearly bumped into her. She looked at me then, surprised and a little fearful but not unkindly, and I understood how I must have appeared, dressed in my usual fashion, breathing hard, perspiring freely, perhaps in the early stages of some medical emergency or psychotic episode, and I could see that she was not anyone I knew or would ever know. Yet after a moment she seemed to know me, or to be able to make an educated guess about me, and she asked whether I was all right, if she could help me in any way, and I said no, just no, answering both questions at once.
Kevin Nance is a poet, arts journalist and photographer in Lexington, Kentucky. His two collections of photographs and haiku are Even If (University of Kentucky Arts in HealthCare, 2020) and Midnight (Act of Power Press, 2022). His free verse has appeared in The North American Review, Poet Lore, and Cumberland Poetry Review, which awarded him the Robert Penn Warren Poetry Prize in 2003. His photographs have been exhibited in Chicago, Portland, Lexington, and other cities. His articles and criticism have appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Poets & Writers Magazine, and other publications.