Karen Petersen: Old Catullus in Chicago

That lovely woman, with her pet bird,
fluttering and tame on her lap,
dare I approach, or will they flee?
I can barely summon a word
as I sit nearby, does she see?

She’s here every day I heard
but will she listen to my plea?
I suspect she would demur,
using just the softest purr,
and perhaps with a hint of glee.

I loosen my belt, and gaze,
for it’s been much too long.
Gone are the years when I was young
now dusk extends its shadows,
chimerically mocking my former days.

She has seen me, thinks I'm weird.
Upset by this old man staring
she stirs, and is ready to leave.
Oh yes, it’s what I feared
but I couldn’t help it, I leered.

To be ignored, or invisible, is the worst.
I know I’ve become jaded
yet her brief glance still seared.
As I watch her leave in the twilight
that’s all, the fire of the sun has faded.