Poetry, by Ronna J. Levy

Photo by Maria Rosenblum

 

TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK  
   June 9, 1989

                                               
Large green trash bags,
seams ripped are spread flat
on plastic dropcloths, draped over
a wall of park benches on one side,
four supermarket carts on the other.
In the carts: scarves, socks,
shirts, pants--folded, packed
next to a stack of Time magazines,
red dishes, an empty Thunderbird bottle.
A round amber glass lamp base,
bare bulb, stands out high.
A flap of plastic--an open door.
Inside: a row of milk crates
topped with a plywood mattress,
Navajo blanket.  An extra
pink milk crate at the head—
a nightstand; a small blue
alarm clock keeps perfect time.
Outside: an open styrofoam box
holds old chicken bones, a mound
of mashed potatoes speckled
with corn kernels at which
three pigeons peck.  Scattered
brown filter-tips form a
welcome mat at the Port-O-San.
Nearby four men stand over
a garbage can flickering with
orange and blue flames.
Their fingers flirt with the
heat this cold June morning.
A yawning brown woman steps
out of her home; a man follows.
She sits on an empty bench,
pocket mirror in hand, begins
applying lipstick; he takes stock
of the goods in the carts.
I pull the hood of my sweatshirt
over my head as the rain begins
and walk quickly toward my co-op.