I wanted to get you a picture of the room
where the two of them sat always
in the dimness of things: the windowseat clouded
by a shorted lamp, the samovar
thick with tea, outdated railway passes
catnip mouse, books piled against the nailed-up door—

Those were some of the things. One of them would strike
days off in bunches, always behind, remarking
"First day day of winter," "President Harding
born, 1865." The other one
would sometimess weep over the spectacle, and check
lists arranged for errands repeatedly begun.

Sometimes when water trembled in the drains
and drugs or lack of supper burned the world's dust away,
they saw things their way till the yellow day
and wandered the elated gardens. But mostly
the cat crumped cellophane
and someone went down for groceries.

No mail came, no offers. Stories below, pedestrians
inched their way antlike through snow that fanned
the vague streetlights with a flutter and stabbing stroke.
No one came stamping through the door, up stairs
and trembling corridors to where
they sat smoking and dazzling the room with talk.


© 2008 Richard Tillinghast, All Rights Reserved