by Eric J. Silverman

for Charles Reznikoff

Underneath the entrance 
angels ride up, down
pairs of feet descend
or rise to the street
Jacob only dreamed of a ladder
never imagining an endless conveyance 
of gears, sprockets, metal teeth.


On the streetcar
two women
wiry, gray hair
parted in the middle
satchel, from the
markets - a conversation in Chinese 
bouquets of scallions sprout at their feet.


A Chinese man sits
eyes closed
and bows
his two-string instrument
it is the place left,
strings echo
melancholy, through the modern station 

"What is it you play" I asked,
moving very softly, not disturbing
"Ah-wooke," “Ah-wooke”
he had a case to collect money

I put in a coin
wanting to be understood, asked
louder, "What is that instrument?"
an even reply, "Ah-wooke," 
his bony hands resumed without restraint
to caress its neck
just as one relives
the memory of a country,
or a lover.


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