She had a studious-sprightly walk, this wren,
this girl ahead of me, she on the way
to the brick, and so, to her eyes, alien
library, nearly empty that weekend day.
She didn’t hear me behind her, and suddenly
she jumped, as nimble as a browsing doe,
and grasped a sheaf of leaves on a small tree,
caressing them a bit as she let go.
She did the same at the next tree — an oak
again, I saw — and as she stopped for the light
I drew beside, glanced at her, almost spoke,
but she looked down, surprised, chagrined no doubt,
and, more, an Asian, Taiwanese I guessed,
that campus had so many, most of whom
were wary of strangers in the smiling West.
When the light changed, I walked ahead and home.
There, my computer told me that oaks, yes,
grew in Taiwan. I think not mere impulse
had made her jump for leaves, not mere jeunesse:
oak leaves, like home. Like home, so little else.