Of oncoming silk,
Like the motion of leaves...
Fragments of color
In glowing surprises...
Hooded in gray
Like buds in a cobweb
Pearled at dawn...
Glimpses of green
And blurs of gold
And delicate mauves
That snatch at youth...
And bodies all rosily
Fleshed for the airing,
In warm velvety surges
Passing imperious, slow...
Women drift into the limousines
That shut like silken caskets
On gems half weary of their glittering...
Lamps open like pale moon flowers...
Arcs are radiant opals
Strewn along the dusk...
No common lights invade.
And spires rise like litanies—
Magnificats of stone
Over the white silence of the arcs,
Burning in perpetual adoration.
Out of the lamp-bestarred and clouded dusk—
Snaring, illuding, concealing,
Turning to fairy-coaches
Scampering under the great Arch—
Making a decoy of blue overalls
And mystery of a scarlet shawl—
Knowing no impediment of its sure advance—
Descends the fog.
A late snow beats
With cold white fists upon the tenements—
Hurriedly drawing blinds and shutters,
Like tall old slatterns
Pulling aprons about their heads.
Lights slanting out of Mott Street
Or dribble through bar-room slits,
Conniving behind shuttered panes
Caper and disappear...
Where the Bowery
Is throbbing like a fistula
Back of her ice-scabbed fronts.
Glimmer in furtive doorways,
Or spill out of the black pockets of alleys,
Smears of faces like muddied beads,
Making a ghastly rosary
The night mumbles over
And the snow with its devilish and silken whisper...
Blowing shrill blasts over the Bread Line
Stalk them as they pass,
Silent as though accouched of the darkness,
And the wind noses among them,
Like a skunk
That roots about the heart...
And the Elevated slams upon the silence
Like a ponderous door.
Then all is still again,
Save for the wind fumbling over
The emptily swaying faces—
The wind rummaging
Like an old Jew...
Faces in glimmering rows...
(No sign of the abject life—
Not even a blasphemy...)
But the spindle legs keep time
To a limping rhythm,
And the shadows twitch upon the snow
As though death played
With some ungainly dolls.