Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Harlem Ghosts

The City brings the seedy grandeur,
The occult stonework stains,
The peeling paint on brickface,
The rust-washed water towers,

Cathedrals with their lime-green domes
Now smoked-glass auditoriums
With 50-year-old leaves and flowers,
Rooftop railings of stone,

Brick mosaics rubbed away
From smiling keystone teeth
And men with beards who never smile
For pigeons to hide under, from rain.

If we were to renew all this
It would be ruined.
The children playing in the dust
Would disappear.
The yellowed books on window shelves
Would lose their words.

The students and the poor
Must inhabit this musée d’amour,
Must pull the white blinds down
Flags of surrender
And change inside,
To salve the city loneliness
With ghosts,
To hail the love and laughter
Long denied.

For people aren’t atoms,
They are molecules
Bound in magnet likeness
Those seen and unseen equally.