EMPTY STREETS

Once there were women with baby carriages;
men in bright uniforms,
their black boots and swords.
Once, yellow dogs roamed the streets;
you could see around the doorways
feral cats napping in the sun.
White washing hung from the lines between houses.
People were cooking chickens or baking bread.
Now and again, a red balloon
some child had let go
drifted above the towers and the trees.

Where once there was music,
there are no echoes left.
In this darkness that was bound to come,
you cannot see your broken hands.
Perhaps, when it is finished,
you will find again that house
with the mock orange tree under the window
or the school with the broken stairs.
Perhaps you will meet your mother
all in blue with ribbons in her hair,
or a dim version of your little self
rolling a hoop or dressing a shabby doll,
or the lover whose jacket smelled of lemons.

But now there is nothing
but the whisperings of white-clad strangers,
and everywhere a cold scent of snow
streams from the open doors.

This was a runner-up for the 2007 Ellen La Forge Poetry Prize

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