A spring wind on the Bowery,
Blowing the fluff of night shelters
Off bedraggled garments,
And agitating the gutters, that eject little spirals of vapor
Like lewd growths.
Bare-legged children stamp in the puddles, splashing each other,
One--with a choir-boy's face
Twits me as I pass ...
The word, like a muddied drop,
Seems to roll over and not out of
The bowed lips,
Yet dewy red
And sweetly immature.
People sniff the air with an upward look--
Even the mite of a girl
Who never plays ...
Her mother smiles at her
With eyes like vacant lots
Rimming vistas of mean streets
And endless washing days ...
Yet with sun on the lines
And a drying breeze.
The old candy woman
Shivers in the young wind.
Her eyes--littered with memories
Like ancient garrets,
Or dusty unaired rooms where someone died--
Ask nothing of the spring.
But a pale pink dream
Trembles about this young girl's body,
Draping it like a glowing aura.
She gloats in a mirror
Over her gaudy hat,
With its flower God never thought of ...
And the dream, unrestrained,
Floats about the loins of a soldier,
Where it quivers a moment,
Warming to a crimson
Like the scarf of a toreador ...
But the delicate gossamer breaks at his contact
And recoils to her in strands of shattered rose.