The dense commuters note, with a smile and sigh,
it is no longer dark when they embark.
Train wheels chug and squeal.
Outside the round and dusty double panes of glass,
they see the slum walls lean and rot.
Rain erects tall weeds whose tiers of leaves
are tipped with spikes.
On every corner
an oily rainbow oozes in a gutter.
Feet step across in droves.
Rain-soaked cement dries out beneath the sun.
The feet move in and up, into mirrored towers,
ferried box by box through grey-trimmed doors.
The tower tops dissolve into white crowns.
Far below, dark men in blue
clip and mulch the little sidewalk parks.
Azalea hedges loose their blooms
in sudden swathes of red and orange,
the blossoms turning back their five bright points.
When a breeze lifts through,
their reflections bob like mounting walls of fire.
Copyright 1997, Judith Westley
Judith Westley received her M.A. in English literature at Columbia University. She lives and
writes in Philadelphia. Her poem "The Absent Ones" won second place in The Painted Bride
Quarterly's annual poetry competition, judged by Stephen Berg. It will appear in an upcoming
issue of PBQ.