No Cold Heaven
No cold heaven, though many houses
on this block need paint and care: lopsided
porch stairs, windows filmed with soot, facades
an accidental patchwork of repair—
cracked wood, sullen brick and stone.
I turned away last night when two men fought,
clawed one another in numbing cold,
palms swathed in rags, a ferocious dance
punctuated by their ear-thrumming roars,
the soiled blankets and layers of clothing
they wore in their way as they wrestled
for a smidgeon of steamy warmth—
the single manhole’s pluming breath.
These days of heavy gray and ice propel
all forward toward year’s end, blackened snow
blanketing what it can—these littered,
greasy streets—and my misgivings hushed
in well-lit rooms, or the circle of this single lamp.
Today, in the bargain shop nearest the store
where checks are cashed, fiber optic angels,
in nylon taffeta robes of pink and peach
grasp hard their ‘candle’ bulbs. Pastel lights
play around their wings that rise and fall
stirring the plangent air—otherworldly
whispers like undulations of lost birds.
They hold, sweet, their pale plastic stares.