Art of Intelligence: The Coldest Season

As part of our “Art of Intelligence” series we have been collecting poems, prose, art and more from former and current intelligence officers. The following poem is written by John W. Davis, an Intelligence Officer with the US Army.

The Coldest Season 

If her ginkgo grew on a university, it would be a quiet rendezvous for young lovers.
Rather it stands by a bench, in a long ago planted grove, crowded now by other, more European trees.
I’ve watched her here since springtime, with freshets of breeze the only motion in her blonde hair as she reads.
In summer by Sonnenbad she is passed only rarely by walkers, out to enjoy this path by the lake.
Only I see, but am not seen. This abandoned electrical building appears blinded by time. Yet its window lives.
 
I know her better than others, since I observe, while others only see.
Her umbrella has two rods, where there should be only one.
Removed, only a natural observer would note it was not a branch, laid next the ginkgo.
She stands, packs her book, adjusts her coat belt, and leaves me; I watch the branch.
 
A boy comes by, often within a day. He always collects branches.
If noticed at all, one thinks the better of him; keeping his family warm.
I see him always retrieve that branch which she left him.
He’ll tell us more, but little of value, since he only retrieves and delivers.
She never saw him, but I did.
 
If it all were different, I could have met her. Only my films now remember those days.
Even now I watch her, on a film by the person I once was; unseen yet there.
I knew her well, and my films helped us know her more. 
I watched from the window for the last time … in autumn. The wind blew some leaves by my window, and then I took a walk.
If it were all different... but of course it wasn't. My films betrayed her as much as a kiss.