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the mysterious stranger

i watched as the mysterious stranger slowly faded away one moment, real enough to split the check with then each new moment, slightly less than in the previous one the words which could be said about the stranger's location shrunk until all that remained was, "not here" i don't know which is worse to know for sure he is gone forever or to suspect that he is inexplicably undistant and will very likely fade back into presence finish the unfinished sentence which he remembers like it was seconds ago and i now only remember remembering he'll laugh at the punch line, and i will weep he is so young, and i had forgotten we used to laugh like that i believe one reason i write poetry is against that unlikely appearance though i know it will never come i write poetry so that on that day he will recognize me.