Lake Como

The searchlight of a February moon
at the end of the street

bare trees black railing
an eastern star set like a pearl atop a steeple

that shadows the doorway
where the one-armed card shark squats

shuffling his deck on a milk crate
waiting for the No. 6 bus to discharge

the off-duty cop the seamstress
the drunken mechanic and the clerk on crutches

who pauses before his building to watch
the mechanic lose three dollars at blackjack

and then stiffly ascends the five flights
to his two rooms on a shaftway

hanging his coat on a hook
and sitting down at the table

on which this morning he placed
a soup bowl and spoon

a tin of crackers and the crossword
puzzle he had been laboring over

beneath the gaze of his late wife
her color photograph propped up in a small frame

a young woman in a boxy dress and felt cap
waving shyly by the edge of a lake

where over her shoulder beneath a clear sky
a sailboat rides the wind

passengers on the polished deck
gazing at the glowing mountain peaks

the cypresses lining the shore
and the pink palazzi with ancient gardens

these men and women in white
who seem to live upon the water

gliding among themselves oblivious to strife
and all else that wears a body down

some sipping from crystal goblets
others just drinking in the light

From Crossing the Equator: New & Selected Poems 1972-2004 by Nicholas Christopher. Copyright © 2004 by Nicholas Christopher. Reprinted by permission of Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserved.