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Snow and Moon River

Elisabeth Harvor
From:   The Long Cold Green Evenings of Spring. Vehicule Press, 1997

Looking down on swimmers
swimming in what looks like
a greenhouse for swimmers

Now that it's dark
and snowing again,
this morning's snow,
seven stories below
on the roof of the tower's
glassed-in swimming pool,
has been turned into
black jungle foliage,

green glass beneath it,
the pool now and then
given a disciplined wobble
by a swimmer, human torpedo
aimed through the lime depths
of chlorine and water.

Snow falls on snow,
snow falls on the swimmers,

farther west,
where the one-family houses are,

snow must be falling
on the tree the City beheaded,
all afternoon I've been telling myself
I should walk there, walk to my tree,

but I've been too afflicted by Sunday

(forty-five minutes to pull
on a stocking)

(another hour and ten minutes to
take three sips of cool tea...)

But now I know I'll
die if I don't
get a move on

and so I shake myself
into my coat and go

down and out,

step out into the frozen swept air,

new snow still falling
like a thoughtless promise from God
that can never be broken—

turn up my collar
and hurry the six blocks
to the street where my tree
is still holding its
two long arms

beseechingly out,
its stump of neck
tinctured black,

while under its cravat
of curdled wood,

someone is waiting,
standing and waiting,

an old woman in a long coat
is standing too still

under the left arm of the
frost-cracked headless tree.

y feet get a cringe in them,
but keep on walking,

even though I know
she'll tell me something
I can't bear to hear,
but when I get to

where she waits
she only tells me she
can barely walk, her
feet and legs hurt her
so. I crook my right arm
and when we make a slow

procession through
the falling snow to the
street where she lives
with a woman who is, she says,
sometimes cross and

sometimes kind to her. I
ask her if she has always
lived in the city—thinking,

with the usual
terror, how do people
end up where they end up,
in single rooms

in the houses
of strangers who
are sometimes cross
and sometimes kind to them?

But she tells me she was
born in Moon River. And when I say
"Oh! Like the song!" then ask her
if Moon River's out West

she says, "Don't know.
Don't know, my darling—
it was a long time ago."

Elisabeth Harvor's works copyright © to the author.

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