[Day 2 of the 31 Days of Poetry]

Carved into a tree - the letters R.S. + J.L. 
A little over five feet up off the ground, 
on the south-west side. 
The letters run slightly crooked up and right;
about eleven o'clock, I'd say. 

Who were R.S. and J.L.? When were they here? 
What did R.S. hope he would accomplish? 
(I assume R.S. is "he"; men are the ones who 
gouge into things, deface perfect beauty, 
so desperate to leave their marks. 
He would have put his initials first, 
not out of chauvinism, not exactly, 
but taking ownership of the act, in his own way 
trying to shield her from his fit of romantic destruction.)

Did they share a picnic beneath the branches 
of this large white oak? Did they watch the sun 
disappear over the far hills? Did R.S. then take J.L. 
in his arms, on a blanket she'd brought from 
home, did he softly whisper kisses into her ear, 
then slowly, as gently as he could (for J.S. was 
an innocent), did R.S. make love to J.L., 
on this hill, beneath this tree?

Did she try to stop him, the mysterious 
(and why do I think somehow fragile?) J.L.? 
Maybe she did at first - 
"Oh, you mustn't hurt such a lovely tree, Reginald!" - 
but halfheartedly, for we know June was secretly pleased. 
"It is okay, Jalinda." Robert answers back. 
"The tree demands a testament to our love!" 
And Joan laughed as Randall kept at his carving. 
And Jemima sighed, knowing better than to argue 
when Rudiger had his mind set on something.

These names don't feel right. 
The couple return in my mind to R.S. and J.L.; 
somehow those two feel real to me now. 
Perhaps it is because I have stood here 
beneath this white oak for many minutes, 
staring at the carved-out letters R.S. + J.L.; 
wondering who they were, 
when they were here, 
and where they are now.

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