[Photos from the George W. Cushman Collection]
Who would sleep for escape
into avenues of rich dreaming,
when this morning holds the eye
in such wakeful mystification?
The city waits, and the walker must go.
Almost a god hovers
over the meaning of girls
on sidewalks of a city,
where shadows and sounds
go unheeded and unheard,
while laughter and chatter
make such infinite music.
This moment a shape of life
no philosophy understands.
Never would take a while
and still not be long enough
to chart the labyrinths of air
and volumes of bright light
hanging as space amid fables
of architecture, as temperatures
of feeling on shoulders of people.
Symbols are everywhere, quaking the day!
It is too much to hope for.
One grows dizzy with poems.
Even this water has such energy!
The old country is now seeping its bad tales.
But here time has appeared to gather
the floating exile, despite his ignorance
of a language made from slang and beauty.
Tears of happiness and memory
fall down muted like autumn's
rose petals and touch the pages
of a book brimming with nightmare.
Roots will be sunk deep and home
to be where harbor horns go faint
at night while day is breathed out.
Tomorrow is alive as a rhapsody in blue.
A prairie lifts the wind and wildflowers catch light.
But no openness compares to lavenders closing in
on city evenings, when lonely thoughts compress
to points of shuddering desire and notes of jazz.
Al's Barber Shop just closed, and all is well.
We are woven together by aromas
and vague kinship in this district of bricks,
where shouts are almost prayers and where
eyebrows are surprised by news on the street.
If illness comes and angels wither,
it doesn't matter -- we once walked.
Damn these eyes!
They've turned this vision
of city into the fabulous
moods and manifestos
that brook no job going
but are a wish to linger
with an unexpected painter
surrealing from silence.
Ah, but the day is ordained
for this moment to vanish,
and the paradox is persistent.
The women don't notice me,
and that in itself is so poetic.
I see them and their curving
through sunlight that wakes
colors of fabrics to flowing, while
voices under the influence of being
so alive consider ways of children.
Façades of buildings are astounded
matter has risen to such speaking
and to such nonchalant gestures.
There is nothing for it but to find an early establishment.
A drink in this city to charge empty pages.
To write souls from shadows is also living.
I could stay here forever
or at least long enough to sing
the fact of these clear moments
when death seems so absurd.
If I found the perfect girl
in this building of absences,
the sun would blush at my luck.
I believe I love her madly.
I could stay here almost forever,
among ghosts of possible hours.
The city is so close to revelation.
A name is suspended on evening.
and this building hold another ghost.
Something is afoot.
Someone said a miracle
is in Uri Rostov's apartment.
Here from the Ural Mountains,
a pianist performing tonight.
Streets are abuzz, solid rumors.
Scriabin sonatas to undim the day,
to burn unending illuminations
over two late Slavic hours!
Who believes in such miracles?
It takes a god to dispel tired labor,
to play a new paradise for grasping.
But I remember stories of hillside gods...
I'll bring vodka and roses and maybe
the Rostovs will let me stand in the foyer.