Central Park and Columbus Avenue
Infinitely warm in your hand is the memory
Of her fingers entangled with yours
Wandering in the park painted with snow, windows
Like lit up altars, floating in all four flanking views
The moonlit paths teasing your eyes into the dark into the light
Through foliage shifting ahead, beneath rising oblongs inlaid with gold
Christmas time zipping up granite buildings into the blanketing sky.
She smiled around her turned-up collar, her body
Plumply buttoned with a warmth that pulsed through
Her fingers dovetailed into yours, promising more, the tepid hollow of air
Enclosed between your palms, a tryst not to be dislodged.
The snow skedaddled away from your feet
As you swung through the pinpricked tapestry of twilight
Pausing to kiss, both stroking the bark of the old sycamore tree
Where somebody, Joe, had carved a heart for Mary
The wound now healed, a ripple of growth over the scar.
You sat for a while in your moonlit profiles on the bench
In unconscious harmony with the sacred tree, you were
Her stranger, she was the strange New Yorker, both of you nameless
And watchful aliens, pausing halfway through the trails of trees.
You had met at Szabo’s check-out counter; she with her tea, Twinings Earl Grey,
You with your shortbread biscuits. “Is it time for tea?” you suggested cheekily.
She took you literally and by the waist, and together arm in arm you walked
Into the streets under the stars, now both foreigners in love with the sky
In love with the golden outlines of passing strollers, their plumes of breath, no plans
To make, only the vague idea to walk gladly together for the length of a block
Before saying goodbye in front of her building, a looming
Stone village in the sky. After a hug before the foyer doors, she decided in life’s favour
And you ascended, smiles conspiratorial in the mirror-walled lift, up past
The carpeted floors of nobody-talking-to-anyone-else floors
Except perhaps for a blue-rinse lady with a manicured pink dog
Until with a click and a buffeted shudder you were walking
Inside, across her shining metres of parquet-patterned floor.
The park was a better backdrop for being with a mysterious stranger
She had said, pulling me out on to the terrace
Where we hugged, cosy in our warm wonderful strangeness
Under the same moon that patiently waited, had glazed the park to gold for us.
In the morning buoyed by bouts of love and tenderness
I slipped on my jeans and shirt to go down for milk and coffee.
After shopping I found my way back to the foyer
A harvest of things in both hands as I walked into the lift then soundlessly
Ascending I remembered I had forgotten to remember
Her door number and her floor and her name I had never asked for.
* * *
ABOUT THE POET
Luke Whitington lived in Italy for nearly twenty years, restoring Medieval structures in Umbria and Tuscany. He continued this work in Ireland, restoring the Norman castle of Portlick at Lough Ree. He founded the multimedia gallery Pleasants Factory in Dublin, which supported artists and writers for seven years. Luke’s poems have been published widely in Ireland, including in The Irish Independent, The Westmeath Independent and Poets In Cahoots. In Australia, his poetry has appeared three times in the Henry Kendall Award anthology and in Overland, Quadrant, The Canberra Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, Melaleuca and the Five Bells anthology. He has read poetry written for art in galleries at Cessnock, Bowral, Pearl Beach and the Charles Cecil Atelier Art School in Florence. He founded the Jean Cecily Drake-Brockman Poetry Prize and divides his time between the Central Coast, Canberra, Ireland and Renaissance Italy.