Thursday, May 27, 2021

That Is to Say in That City

I saw a picture once, he said,
A front-page newspaper picture
From the days of only print, you know,
Only black-and-white newsprint,

And it was nothing special, winter,
A union on strike in a big city,
A march of men over a bridge,
All overcoats under metal girders,

Under a solid grey sky, and they
Were all grey, of course, and their coats
And their faces were light or dark grey,
And they were shoulder to shoulder,

This mass of maybe thousands of men,
Dour faces, the masses, on a bridge
On a grey winter day in a big city,
Protesting their wages, decades ago.

And the thing is, he said, leaning
In toward us over his coffee, earnest,
What hit me all of a sudden was
That all those anonymous men were,

Every last one of them, a whole life,
Whole as mine—that that was their world,
That cold march together on a cold day,
Thousands of worlds, now mostly dead.

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