National Poetry Month: ‘A Moment in Time’

John Freeman

The following is an excerpt from John Freeman’s forthcoming book of poetry The Park, out May 2020 from Copper Canyon Press. You can also read more of John Freeman’s poetry in Issue 115.

On a windy day

I come upon a woman

crying to herself on

a bench. The park

has hidden her

in its embrace and

I must decide

how to be,

to stop or keep

walking by,

to pretend

not to see? Or

should I

flinch at her pain,

even as she,

so dedicated to

caroling her despair,

does not. How

pain does this,

makes us its


There we were—

she weeping,

I standing, time

paused in its daily

click, and all that

was not: what

a weeper always

mourns. I could

have produced a

tissue or hugged

her. I might have

brought a bottle of

water, as if tears can

be drowned in what

they are, but I did

none of it, stilled

by that sound,

how a crane

calling over water

in the morning

is not speaking

to you.

John Freeman was the editor of Granta until 2013. His books include How to Read a Novelist, Tales of Two Cities, Tales of Two Americas, and Maps, his debut collection of poems. He is executive editor at the Literary Hub and teaches at the New School and New York University. Read more of his poetry in Issue 115.

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