A pale, water sky

by tiresomemoi

Blue house, rue Saint-Jacques – 8 April 2015Blue house, rue Saint-Jacques




Dawn. I was just walking

back across the tracks

toward the loading docks

when I saw a kid climb

out of a boxcar, his blue

jacket trailing like a skirt,

and make for the fence. He’d

hoisted a wet wooden flat

of fresh fish on his right

shoulder, and he tottered

back and forth like someone

with one leg shorter than

the other. I took my glasses

off and wiped them on the tails

of my dirty shirt, and all

I could see were the smudges

of the men wakening one

at a time and reaching for

both the sky and the earth.

My brother-in-law, Joseph,

the railroad cop, who talked

all day and all night of beer

and pussy, Joseph in his suit

shouting out my name, Pheeel!

Pheeel! waving a blue bandana

and pointing behind me to

where the kid cleared the fence

and the weak March sun

had topped the car barns,

to a pale, watery sky, wisps

of dirty smoke, and the day.


Philip Levine (1928-2015)