Retired ballerinas on winter afternoons walking their dogs in Central Park West (or their cats on leashes— the cats themselves old highwire artists) The ballerinas leap and pirouette through Columbus Circle while winos on park benches (laid back like drunken Goudonovs) hear the taxis trumpet together like horsemen of the apocalypse in the dusk of the gods It is the final witching hour when swains are full of swan songs And all return through the dark dusk to their bright cells in glass highrises or sit down to oval cigarettes and cakes in the Russian Tea Room or climb four flights to back rooms in Westside brownstones where faded playbill photos fall peeling from their frames like last year’s autumn leaves
I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.
I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves, but worse.