The woman who is waiting for the evening draws
a black line over one eyebrow, then rises from
her dressing table, walks to the grammaphone.
Immediately, the tremulous voice of Ada Falcon
singing "Garden of Desire" fills the room
like a perfume whose smell slides over the walls,
over the table by the window and into the autumn
afternoon, crosses the street and drifts through
the top story of a retired clerk who sits
in his slippers at a table shuffling cards. His
wife is making cabbage soup and all day the smell
has filled his life. Now the tango draws him toward
the window where in the street he sees two children,
perhaps six or seven, poised cheek to cheek, their
joined hands thrust forward like the prow of a ship,
who remain motionless as the woman on the record
sings about loss. As he listens, the clerk recalls
dances he attended as a young man, thinks of a dance
at the seashore where he had gone with his parents.
The dance floor was a pier over the water and pines
along the shore swayed in a summer wind. . . .
from "The Window" by Stephen Dobyns