THE WINTER GARDEN
Today on Broadway, we huddle from wind
beneath palms and piano fingers playing
Berlin: “God Bless America,” slowly.
A man with socks for gloves and bags for shoes
applauds so sweet even guards with handguns
smile. “From way back,” he says, “from way back when.”
He’s young. He doesn’t know. He remembers
though something read in failing school, or dad’s
tales of glory days before he left them:
the big war, dancehall widows wide with hope,
how cars cruised by with optimistic chrome.
Now a condo zoning-bonus is home.
The bored pianist plays “The Entertainer.”
Another man, with beard of bus exhaust
and grease, shouts, “Hey, he’s on the rag!” No one
gets the joke. He sorts his bottles, laughing
to himself. “Tell me the reason life smells
bad like socks,” he says to no one, over
and over, his sockless ankles cracking
from the cold, the ragged flaps of sneakers
squeaking on the marble. The food stand sells
quiche and soup no one camping here can buy.
A sign says: Winter Garden This Is A
Public Space No Purchase Necessary