No blue grocery bags rustle
from the lindens
lining the freshly paved avenues.
No women stop before windows
to stare at mannequins
blank as angels.
A dog barks from a rose garden.

Motor scooters hurry, hummingbird-mad,
whenever the bright blossoms
of traffic lights turn green,
and the tanks everyone feared
would rumble in and shatter
grave- and cobblestones alike
languish in empty lots outside town,
peace having swept over them
like a storm of rust.

In the beginning, the minor chords
of waiters smoking outside
on red vinyl stools
or of alleyways shimmering
with a perpetual snowfall of pigeons
arranged moments one could live by.
But now, look how the butcher weeps
after calling the lamb over to him,
after slitting its throat.

Look how the window washers razor
white soap from the glass,
revealing a transparency so pure
they cannot peep inside.
And at the crossing
before the central bridge,
there’s a red-tuniced officer,
his face chapped hard
as a falcon’s from glaring into the wind,

who sends some across
and delays the rest
with the mere flick of his hand.

–Temple Cone