Red Leather Jacket

Had I not spoken first
when we met that clouded morning
after a broken night
in which we’d slept apart;
had I not stunned myself
at the start I underwent,
kindling at the sight
of you far across the park
(bright—so bright your jacket’s
red on that dark day
whose fallen leaves were drifting
from brown to a final gray);
had I then, possessed by a flame
that stirred up the ashes of
a cool cover of pigeons,
not broken into a run
(past a row of frost-gripped benches
and a low, a wire-caught kite
that hung its head in shame),
and reached you almost breathless;
well, suppose I hadn’t spoken
first, dipping my head
toward a spooneristic kiss
from you who glowed as red
as any Queen of Hearts,
hadn’t cried, “My dear, you luck
like Lady Look herself!”
would you have managed better?
What would you have said?
—Brad Leithauser