No wonder some prefer a narrow hall,
A single room where doubts die
Until possibility, that odd flower,
Returns its face.
The doors close and open every day.
The doors close and open every day
And every day we hurtle toward the city.
Today I saw the usual human disaster:
Head in her chest, legs pocked with pink wounds,
Fingers wrapped tight around a white handbag.
Then the subway doors opened and children
Piled in: the whole car filled with their high
At the next stop they all poured out;
The car was vacant, solemn, the air
Settled and clear—but she was still there.
Outside a lilac bush blows to the wind,
And everywhere one looks
A pre-Socratic flux
Streams down avenues
Of taxicabs and radios,
Mortality’s parade crowned with neon and chrome—
As if we were beasts evolving toward a sentence
That breaks and disperses before we arrive
At the city we promised to build.
© Phillis Levin