The City With No Sky
by Barbara F. Lefcowitz

In the season of the plum rains,
named for the opening of blossoms,
first promise of fruit,
the city of Shanghai disappears,
all day a haze so dense
even the sharpest lenses
cannot clarify the myopic blur.
And the many brilliant skyscrapers,
reduced to vague gray shapes,
have no sky to pierce.

Despite the fecund air
nothing blooms
except red neon night-blossoms,
square, angular, slightly curved--
given my ignorance of ideograms,
they could be flashing and blinking
the analects of Confucius, ads for beer,
ancient poems about the plum rains,
the opening of blossoms with their
promise of fruit:
bittersweet and firm of flesh
inside their sleek rinds.

So many plums the wine will surely
be excellent this year, abundant enough
to slake the thirst of all who have settled
in this particular spot of earth,
so many, so many by now
no wonder the persistent haze
blurs the incessant rush of figures
across bridges, down narrow alleys,
shadow puppets in this city
that has lost its sky.

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