Sartre by the River

by Beate Sigriddaughter

Emily sees her former self read Sartre
by the river on a misty Sunday morning.
Nobody, she believes, knows where she is,
what she is doing. Her parents think
she went to church, she thinks,
to the late morning sermon, her hymnal
in her baggy red purse instead of
Being and Nothingness of which
she doesn't understand a word, even
in translation. No matter. The title,
lovely, certainly intrigues. She wants
to say no to something without hurting
anyone. And so her life begins
with secrets and the scent of grass,
ducks on the water, words on the page,
wind in her problematic hair.