At the café window, the prospect of snow

seems endless. Clouds detour sunlight,

shadows work the walls of tenements.

At my feet, sacks of herring and black bread

that a spinster—fingerless gloves, smoke-yellow

nails, sold me in the marketplace.

Only one other patron here: a pensioner,

frowning at the evening paper

as if it were a love letter etched in vanishing ink.


The waitress serves me wormwood liqueur,

binds back her autumn hair. Shirt cropped

at the ribs, she shows me the blue

sparrow tattooed on her hip, swears

it floats above her in her sleep.

Outside, the onset of heavy snow.

It angles off the boulevard, gets snared

in contrary winds. A woman races

into a doorway. A sliver of light escapes.