It always makes me smile to find a new landscape poem that brings me inside the writer’s scene, to walk and feel beside the writer. For me, this is the difference between a reading and an experience. Here is a David Harris Ebenbach poem, that is more gate than window.
Shabbat Comes Over West Philadelphia (included by permission of author)
Shabbat comes over West Philadelphia
on quiet wings. As the sun heads off into
the higher numbers, up from Center City
comes the night. Street lights hum on.
Cars click slowly into spots on this block
or the next while someone stretches out
on a bench in Clark Park, the ongoing
sound of the basketball not a rhythm but
a cadence. Dinner time comes to kitchen
after kitchen. People go in to their food
and television, and those who come out
again take to the steps for an evening of
nothing much. They watch that nothing
much. It never gets all the way dark here,
the light is the orange grease they pop
corn in at the movie theater, but it’s dark
enough that faces go over to further and
further shadow. Buses and trolleys. It all
continues, slower and slower, until the
only things moving are the raccoons, the
stray cats, the young men unable to rest.
One kid gets dropped at home very late.
Out of the car, up the porch steps to the
front door. The sound of keys loud on a
stilled street. He goes in without having
noticed Shabbat moving down Osage
Avenue. He wouldn’t know how to find
the sound of angels within the sound of
traffic remote on another street, the buzz
of the streetlight, the cadence of the heart.
But he will.
2River published this poem online in their Spring 2011 issue. 2River also provides an audio file for their poems, and is a great online destination to save in your bookmarks folder.
Mr. Ebenbach also writes fiction. His collection of short stories, Between Camelots, is now available as an e-book.