They are like figures held in some glass ball,
One of those in which, when shaken, snowstorms occur;
But this one is not yet shaken.
And they go unaccompanied still,
Out along this walkway between two worlds,
This almost swaying bridge.
October sunlight checkers their path;
It frets their cheeks and bare arms now with a shadow
Almost too pure to signify itself.
And they progress slowly, somewhat lingeringly,
Independent, yet moving all together,
Like polyphonic voices that crisscross
In short-lived harmonies.
Today, a few stragglers.
One, a girl, stands there with hands spaced out, so,
A gesture in a story. Someone’s school notebook spills,
And they bend down to gather up the loose pages.
(Bright sweaters knotted at the waist; solemn expressions.)
Not that they shrink or hold back from what may come,
For now they all at once run to meet it, a little swirl of colors,
Like the leaves already blazing and falling farther north.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 3 Number 2, on page 43
Copyright © 2021 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com