For one brief instant

Your eyes encounter mine;

A flicker of recognition

Illuminates your face with a smile,

You move as though to speak to me ---

As though one word

Might span our separateness,

As though some miracle

Might stroke our masks away.

But the moment subsides into silence,

Extinguished by the formalities of pretence;

A cosmos comes between us,

And we deflect our paths

To destinations unrelated and remote,

Assigning each other

To some distant role

Of a cherished fantasy.