Washington Square, 2020
From my window, I see the world
without us in it: a vacant park,
a silver maple sheltering no reader;
a cherry tree dressed like a bride betrayed,
her wedding canceled; a dogwood tree
whose whites will fall without regretful eyes.
No baby strollers; no candy wrappers
stuffed in bins; just a sign, “NO bicycles,”
and memories of skateboard pirouettes.
Around us, death: the numbers spin the mind.
Fever dreams. The last breath held, alone.
I had not thought death had undone so many.
This park reminds us it was once a field
for the unclaimed dead of galloping yellow fever.
Construction workers dug up skeletons
that had lain for years beneath our footsteps.
Death in the hanging elm, a rooted gallows.
Now the clear air, pollution-free, is poison
for walkers, while trees stand stern, immune.
Sad paradox. For comfort, I recall:
Camille Pisarro would have lingered here.
He painted Paris gardens from a window,
having left his island’s sprawling shores
for tighter scenes — but he gazed at people,
matchsticks from above, in ones and twos.
Below, the park’s unlittered paths are mute,
But wait: just now a mournful, prayerful sax,
unseen, from somewhere, unlooses notes,
calls me to the window, and I hear
the sounds I can’t imagine days without.