Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the stranger

The stranger
By Katie Oscar

One tiny figure slips out
From a wet grey side street
On that side of the city.

The stranger stands for a moment on the empty avenue
Under a dark streetlamp.
All the lamps on that side are dark.

It’s nearly six-o-clock
In a month where the light goes grey at three
And dark at five.

The brown-silver fog
That shrouds the city almost completely
From outside eyes,
Swirls idly but insistently
Through the streets

As though blown by a wind
That only gas is sensitive to
And flesh and hard matter can’t appreciate.

In West Bridge Students feel disoriented
And a sensation close to seasickness
As they watch the gas blow by them
On the avenues.

But the stranger under the dark lamp
Isn’t bothered by it at all,
Only the slightest shake of his head,
As he stares back toward East Bridge
Through the haze,
Gives away that he can see the stuff at all.

No one comes here at night.

Those few students who don’t retreat
Behind their drawn curtains
And locked doors by six o’clock
Keep to East Bridge and its river side restaurants and pubs,

There’s more light and less mist there;
Really there’s just more light and
The mist, like the moon,
Turns invisible in the light.

Bridge avenue is never busy,
It’s no man’s land,
Cutting a slice
Between east and west
Here and there.

No one lingers long, they slip past,
Between places,
Eyes quick and ready
Hoping no one from where they are headed
Sees them come
And no one from where they are leaving
Watches them go.

The coarse sound of glass
Breaking and grinding
Under the strangers small feet
Echoes down the wide silent avenue

The stranger takes no notice
But continues to look towards East Bridge
With the kind of weary nervousness
Usually reserved for those standing on this side
And looking toward that one.

The broken glass comes from the broken lights,
It covers the empty sidewalk
For at least three blocks
On that side of the avenue
Until it stops where the lights are still burning.
No one comes here at night.

That side’s lack of light
Makes the line between there to here
Quite obvious tonight,
In the grey rain the street reflects the lights
From the windows on this side.

The lights reach out,
Towards the shadows
Stopping almost exactly
At the feet of the traveler
Who steps into them,
Finally deciding to cross.

He moves slowly
Watching the light around his feet,
Acknowledging its welcome
Until he stops in one black spot
Where something is obstructing
The light from one window.

Its one black smudge
In a sea of twinkling reflection.
He looks down at the shadow
And then up at the window.

I look back
And then slip away from the sill,
Leaving the stranger
Standing in his pool of light
Looking up.

No comments:

Post a Comment