Tableau #3

Pigeons flutter in the park at dusk
and shiver feathers in the mauve half-light: policemen meet under the lams to ask
what the special is tonight.
The air is crisp.
Hunched in black, the hacks clutch a wreath
of woven hide, staring at their knuckles
or kneecaps; damp horses snort in fogs
that stain the air an instant. Chestnuts crackle
under the eyes of the vendor and split the dregs
of ash. Hissing air and steam drags the charcoal into two heaps of dust
cooling in the burner to glowing rust.
The wrinkled trees sigh
ancient sibilants of sorrow –
At last.
So soon.
Yes, I hear you
By the Italian restaurant
the old accordion wrings a ragged tune
from the pleats. The Aurora lights a cold
red flame and beats the neon echoes blown
down the caves of last year. So soon
the rose we bought in the street is a slender stem
of thorns, pricking petals of blood from my thumb.

New York, 1961

The third of three tableaus found in poems.odt, a collection of Patrick’s poetry.