|Prompt for: January 19, 2013
Subject or Theme: Nighttime (any aspect)
Word(s) to Include: ephemeral(ly)
Forbidden Word(s): black, dark, dusk, evening, moon, night, nighttime, stars, sunset
Additional Parameters: Minimum 100 words (no line requirement). Please provide word count of just words used in poem, not including title or WritingML.
Nocturne in b-flat minor, Op. 9 No. 1*
out from her alley off Dunham
sometime after 1 a.m., but always before three.
Over to Denby's. The pickings are good
especially on Friday after the bar closes.
Must have been a party. She scores leftover cake
with pink icing and raspberry filling, fries,
half a pizza, and a handful of barely burned candles.
Down to 7th where Christmas lights blaze year round
and Li Chow always leaves a dish out back under the window.
Hattie won't stir during the day;
she doesn't want you to see her face.
Never look her in her eye.
Perhaps seventy now,
her hair, long and braided with ribbons
is pale, pale red. She wears a green high-topped
PF Flyer sneaker with purple laces on her left foot,
a scuffed army boot on her right.
Seasons mean little to Hattie
who wears her entire wardrobe.
A different order every day.
Fridays, she wears the variegated sweater
a lady down at St Agnes' gave her ten years ago.
She pushes her blue stroller
with her babies: three worn, stuffed bears.
They are tucked in securely
under the rest of her world.
Sometimes she sings lullabys
to her children, other times,
soaring operas in perfect pitch.
Homeless Hattie has a doctorate in differential calculus
but these days, she counts on her fingers.
All seven of them;
three lost to a slammed dumpster lid.
Ever lost for a crossword puzzle answer?
Hattie will rattle it off in seconds flat.
But she doesn't know or has long since forgotten
her last name.
Close now on to four, she awaits the papers being dropped;
the driver gives her one of each. She looks
to see if there have been any fires. She cries for fires.
The last time she went home
she arrived to see the place burning.
Her husband and their three children died that night:
she has never gone home again.
She has her place, her spot, but never her home.
On down to Larrimore where Sammy waits,
a cup of coffee in each hand. They sit on the bench
at park's edge. One at either end.
The stroller and shopping cart in the middle.
Sammy reeks of fish and gutter,
Hattie, delicately, of Wind Song.
They hold a conversation. She speaks eloquently
of Chopin. He counters with Stock Market quotes
The city begins to stretch awake
and it is time to go. They stand, collect
their lives. He bows. She sniffs and strolls away.
Her perfume, an ephemeral cloak around her,
stays on my mind.