Crossing the Street

June 1, 1999

Crossing the Street - Poetry of the Times

-from the painting by Giovanni Boldoni, 1842-1931

Crossing the street after rain,
empty hands in empty pockets,
I am a patient who arrives on time.
The office waits beyond white pines,
lower limbs broken off after living
too long without sun. I have watched
brown needles detach in fall,
wondered at patients stringing
Christmas lights,
and tried to hope when spring
branches thrust green candles.
Crossing the street I am a glass
filled a fraction above the rim,
tension holding precarious before
I spill.
I trample the corner feet have worn
brown in the grass, open the door
up the back stairway, clean
with the sweet smell of soap,
drag down a long, carpeted hall
to the late afternoon office.
Crossing my legs, I lean back,
eyes wandering-a photo of
Erik Erikson,
shelves of hardbound books,
flowers arranged in a pewter vase,
and I remember the painting:
a woman crosses a cobblestone street
after the rain, black carriage,
black dog and dingy building
behind her,
one cautious hand lifting
the hem of her black ruffled dress
revealing what she prefers to hide,
the other clutching an abundance
of pink.
Yes, I cry, yes,
to be crossing the street
in a wet, gray world,
lips set to smile,
my arm like hers,
cradling a rose bouquet.
© CME LLC
7/99

Read more of Dr. Berlin's work.