The City, 1927
by Michelle Hartman

An apartment house, French lines,
__a London square,
___ second floor window sports cheery striped
red and white awning and four girls
who work at the automat, try to make it nice.
But this poem is about the front, third floor
apartment which faces the square
and its military statue. The top floor
is owned by a rich Earl who uses it when
Parliament is in session or his wife
is at country home and he wants
to entertain a bit of fluff. But this writer
is fascinated by the girl, for she is hardly more,
in 3C watches the square. Many nights
she falls asleep there. The first floor
has a café with exotic fragrances
and little shops that carry ribbon, hats and potions.
The girl on the third floor makes hats,
lace confections that look
like flaky snow on fine dew sparkle
more than paid hand work; bringing in barely
enough for one room and day old from café. She
is saving for a house. A middle aged Italian
couple live on the third floor as well
as two artists who beg the girl
to model without luck. This poem is not
about a boy from Cornwall who sign up
to ride the tides astride magnificent metal ships
lit up by bombs so bright sailors see Valkries
coming long before they are taken. Ship of fools
breaking, ripping with metal screams like
golems beaten to death.
This poem is about an old woman
who is found by neighbors. A sepia
picture in silver frame and reams of lace,
each knot a passing hour,
each foot a week
a loss, a life spun out in thread alone.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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