i. Café Pertutti
Being here now be damned,
there is a motion in the passersby
that troubles comfort and brings on longing.
Midsummer evening, women drifting by
in peacock colors; what fitter thought
than Watching them pass, I am happy?
But summer is framed by ardent spring and dense autumn.
Where are they going in their emerald scarves?
ii. Skater's Waltz
This was the challenge: not to succumb,
that late gray afternoon in Port Authority,
to easy fury at the piped-in music
such carefree, glittering sound must surround
much happier commutes than mine
but to let the lushness pierce the grayness,
discover myself gliding in
an indoor rink with all the other skaters.
iii. Grove Street
Out on a limb, I liked the breezes
but feared the storms. Succeeding days
saw me stubbornly moving through crowds
with wide grin or vacant gaze two sides
of the same page, for either way I was martini-dry,
incapable of bruising, noticing flecks on necks
rather than eyes, their daggers and their vistas.
And then a tree wept! The petals at my feet . . .
The park admits the wind,
the petals lift and scatter
like versions of myself I was on the verge
of becoming; and ten years on
and ten blocks down I still can't tell
whether this dispersal resembles
a fist unclenching or waving goodbye.
But the petals scatter faster,
seeking the rose, the cigarette vendor,
and at least I've got by pumping heart
some rules of conduct: refuse to choose
between turning pages and turning heads
though the stubborn dine alone. Get over
"getting over": dark clouds don't fade
but drift with ever deeper colors.
Give up on rooted happiness
(the stolid trees on fire!) and sweet reprieve
(a poor park but my own) will follow.
There is still a chance the empty gazebo
will draw crowds from the greater world.
And meanwhile, meanwhile's far from nothing:
the humming moment, the rustle of cherry trees.
Copyright © 2006 by Rachel Wetzsteon.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.