She was a dancer with dancer's ankles,
riding a bike through the sand blowing through the gaps in
the stacks of ceramic roofing tiles at the construction site
on her way out to the state road for groceries.

Her cotton dress whipped from her shoulders,
and she glowed in the sun like a lighthouse beacon
as she worked the pedals, gaining speed
before cresting the disused railroad embankment.

She existed for me nineteen seconds at a time, like artwork,
between one ridgeline and the next, every day for a year,
returning with milk and bread tied into her baby carrier
with frayed elastic cords and extra plastic bags.

I thought about petitioning the town for a traffic light,
but I liked those pieces of minutes I took from her
and decided I would be the worst kind of thief,
robbing her of her rhythm with luminous, metrical precision.

Nineteen seconds a day is just under two hours a year,
two hours of being warned by her of rocks that lurk,
shark-like and hungry, just beneath my surface.
She regulated me like nitroglycerin.

I compromised with myself, and with her, in the end -
at night, I prayed for rain.