27 December 2015

The musical fountain is here

                                               by Grace Schulman

Crossing the Square

Squinting through eye-slits in our balaclavas,
we lurch across Washington Square Park 
hunched against the wind, two hooded figures 
caught in the monochrome, carrying sacks
of fruit, as we’ve done for years. The frosted, starch-
tiff sycamores make a lean Christmas tree
seem to bulk larger, tilted under the arch
and still lit in three colors. Once in January,
we found a feather here and stuffed the quill 
in twigs to recall that jay. The musical fountain 
is here, its water gone, a limestone circle
now. Though rap succeeds the bluegrass strains
We’ve played in it, new praise evokes old sounds. 
White branches mimic visions of past storms;
some say they’ve heard ghosts moan above this ground, 
once a potter’s field. No two stones are the same,
of course: the drums, the tawny pears we hold, 
are old masks for new things. Still, in a world 
where fretted houses with façades are leveled 
for condominiums, not much has altered
here. At least it’s faithful to imagined
views. And, after all, we know the sycamore
will screen the sky in a receding wind.
Now, trekking home through grit that’s mounting higher,
faces upturned to test the whirling snow,
in new masks, we whistle to make breath-clouds form 
and disappear, and form again, and O, 
my love, there’s sun in the crook of your arm.

Grace Schulman, “Crossing the Square” from Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems. 2002.

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