McKinley Park Rose Garden
The bushes have been converted
to reaching bare stalks
pending the texture and shine
of new bloom, loosed petals.
In Sunday's light beneath a palm
near the center of the grassy maze
a white-haired man photographs
an unoccupied bench.
Debris from yesterday's pruning
lies about, green canes with gray thorns,
as a few speculators in propagation glean
cuttings of unknown but hopeful variety.
The city burns like coal, gasping smoke for air
with the dimness of mines and bitter brown shading.
A heavy, sluggish fire has driven the birds away
without any speed or lightness or flickering edge.
The tall buildings rise like paper balloons lit from inside
by candles and then slowly erode by sublimation.
We want to fire brightly, to be part of the spark,
but instead we will be the dark heat of burned coffee.
And like the squirrels, we will lay ourselves along branches
and sniff, dull-eyed, at the slack sulfurous breeze.
Later there will be the closed-cavern dark, where we cast
about for the touch of a wall and the taste of dust.
Even a fossil leaf to trace with dry fingers might be
enough to soften the mineral crust of summer.
And then we could remember the idea of autumn
and station ourselves to count as each day is broken.