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.