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.