It never is the same when someone comes back after being gone, especially when there is pain involved. I wish it were so, but wishes are just that: hopes unfulfilled.
By Sharon Olds
Suddenly nobody knows where you are,
your suit black as seaweed, your bearded
head slick as a seal’s.
Somebody watches the kids. I walk down the
edge of the water, clutching the towel
like a widow’s shawl around me.
None of the swimmers is just right.
Too short, too heavy, clean-shaven,
they rise out of the surf, the water
rushing down their shoulders.
Rocks stick out near shore like heads.
Kelp snakes in like a shed black suit
and I cannot find you.
My stomach begins to contract as if to
vomit salt water
when up the sand toward me comes
a man who looks very much like you,
his beard matted like beach grass, his suit
dark as a wet shell against his body.
Coming closer, he turns out
to be you – or nearly.
Once you lose someone it is never exactly
the same person who comes back.