that she loved him
desperately never
dawned on her

until too late.
before she knew it
she was too far gone.

it all started with
the difference

shale and slate,
a curiosity they

on a
class hike they
went on.

but as they
did linger to ponder
those old rocks

they found themselves
for the first time

he thought nothing
of it, to be sure,
but to her

the river wept
and all the birdsong
wailed. The woods

accepted them
as if it had been
centuries in wait,

as if their spirits
coalesced in communion
with that place.

she’d fight it
for years,
to no avail.

but already
she was
a hopeless case.

that night she wrote
him the first love poem
of a million more she’d send.

she looked up slate and shale,
and simply copied
the definition.

after she read, she closed
the book, tears like
that river in her eyes.

“slate starts just
the same as shale,
but under

pressure, over
time, does