Times Square lures him like a pulp book cover. A barker wearing a weather-worn, snap-brim fedora tugs on the sleeves of two marines. Globes hang in a triad in front of a honky tonk bar where soldiers on leave sing, “Who Wouldn’t Love You.” Across the street, a G.I. fires rifles at metal targets in a shooting gallery. Two hookers wearing short yellow skirts stroll past, their arms linked, their heels clicking on the sidewalk. The hot night sweats. He stops where the sidewalk and street are slashed by slats of light from a window to read a sign, Cheap Rates By Day By Week. An ancient Chinese woman in slip-slop slippers passes a young woman wearing a blue cotton frock and Minnie Mouse white high heels. He sniffs grease, smoke, malt sticking to the humid air. The bars are packed as troop trains.
from “Manhattan in the Forties”
Open one drawer. A pocket watch, its crystal
broken, match book, two bullets, a chain,
a medicine box, a prescription, its ink
blurred and faded, three nickels, two pennies.
Open another. Paper liner from a time long
before: knives, forks, spoons, workaday,
pewter-gray utensils stacked in rows once
orderly, now crossed like fallen pick-up sticks.
A curtain between rooms is thin as an ancient
wedding veil, a rocker barely visible behind
the lace, brass tacks securing its upholstery.
An oval mirror reflects the knob on a door.
No one is at home. Just things. Life’s evidence.
An old clock stuck at five after. An antique lamp’s survivor’s light.
from “Wright Morris”