for Sue

After a day of paving,

we sit on our new patio

to appreciate our results.

For five minutes

we enjoy our silence,

but then you ask me,

“What are you thinking?”

I say, “I’ve been thinking

of the Great Wall of China.”

“Oh. a distant thought”

you say, mildly disappointed,

but not too much,

for you give me a kiss

as you go in.

It was you and me

I was imagining,

two workers,

husband and wife,

tired after work,

sitting at one among the many

campfires that illuminate the wall,

drinking tea together.

It was the year 200 B.C.

and we were two small people

caught between the wall

and the Huang Ho River.

Thomas Speer

Tom Speer is a widely published poet who studied with Robert Mezey, Philip Levine, and Peter Everwine at Fresno State University in the late ’60s. For the past many years, Speer has lived in Tucson, Arizona, where he is a teacher of poetry. “The Great Wall of China” comes from his collection My Father’s Shoes: New and Selected Poems, published by Pima Press, and is reprinted by permission.

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