Plow-piled snow shrouded
in shadow from the abbreviating sun, snow
frosted with the exhaust of tour buses. Pigeons shift in congress.
Sun glints windshields & chrome
like cotton blooms in the monitors. Surveillance here is catholic.
From cornices cameras oscillate like raven-heads
nestled along palisades. Cameras mind entrances, pedestrians, traffic,
the landscape from land’s end to Baccarat Boulevard. I tend
the security station, notice briefly among these half-dozen screens,
a phantom looping through the busy breeze-way & out
of view. Unseasonable sparrows mating? Something
clutched like a gambler’s fist, keening a halo from daylight
folded across the corridor like gift-wrap.
Little tumbleweed, if you are sparrows, you are bishops
of risk wrestling toward pain’s bursaries. Jacob and angel, I believe
I could have conjured that woman now entering
the asphalt current to protect you. Mira! she might be saying. But
she’d be speaking to me. Waving her cashier’s apron against traffic,
through the street like a banner out to where
her good deed is witnessed. Out to where I take her example
as accusation. As if the pixels of light depicting the world she is framed in
were impastoed by me to the monitor’s glass canvass (to be arranged
according to the obligation of my anonymous nobility),
what good could I do
to alter the facts of the world as it hustles around me? What odds
do those birds stand to chance anyway?
Prevention is akin to greed. Say recovery
and a sermon salts the air. Consider the postcards here
on the counter beside me. They’ll do no more than carry the words of their
senders, speak their simple pictures: Jersey’s bright-domed capital looks like a junkyard
of church bells, a reliquary of Sundays
wracked and laid to rest. A noble martyr, Trenton fears no law
of diminishing returns, says it “makes,
the world takes.” Another prays the next wet pebble
be the one that makes a beach. Paydirt. We should be so lucky.
While Gulf Stream thumbs the blade of the coastal dustpan
ministering geology, my cameras cue to effervescent sand
revealing Caesar’s chip, taffy wrappers and the gull
teens fed antacid down Kentucky Ave. Irrepressibly,
I leave my post to investigate the sparrows, the weather
& the woman. What may or may not have crossed the screen just now
has left the taste of them on my mind. Sparrows.
Like what the blueberry leaves on my tongue
that makes me think of blueberries each time
I taste one. Outside, it is as if by carnival
mirror or some troubled depth that corrugated
clouds warble a jet-sibilant sky.
Still centerless portrait. Portrait I still see
from a half-dozen vantages at once: the boardwalk planks
off prior to horizon, just shy of the breaker’s stones
to the right, water peeling from stones the way
toddlers will feed their small bodies
down stairways come summer.
The untended information
booth & lifeguard stand in the distance.
A twin engine drags its banner cross the sky out to where
Sunday admits wind is its only body
above the turning Earth. Days garments
in the striptease of time. Weeks tumbleweeds spun
of will and luck.