(Arun Kuchibhotla/Unsplash)

In the residue that is the world’s we scrub
for meaning, oceans of knowledge undulating

to a wave, reading rereading the sand, white
foam at peak and trough a spell of wonder,

the infinite water molecule a finite breath.
Walking restores what is upright in our minds,

the fragility of a step, the insistence of the earth,
borders tracing retracing their edges, dusted

missiles pointed as word circles round. Here
in the French Quarter the black crow is king,

sailing her way through the Big Easy––shuttered
and boarded, not a hint of vomit or beer, voodoo

or bead––where centuries-old balconies offer
shade and glimpses of light, her caw at home

in the emptiness, rooftop to rooftop, stoplight
to bin, calling out the fullness of our flight,

our spirits perched, scavenging for sustenance
in the open sky, the vast solitude, clamoring

for keys to envision the invisible, this our rhythm
this our blues. Here the funeral marching band

knows its place and doesn’t know its place,
the brass horn the silver trumpet burnished

to a shine in the dark, the whistle of the midnight
train rattling the Mississippi River; black crow at rest.

Published in the June 2023 issue: View Contents

Howard Altmann’s most recent book, Forgive Time, is an original collection of fifty poems translated into Hebrew by award-winning poet/translator Tal Nitzán (Keshev Press, 2021).

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