December, and still no mon
rising from the river.
home from the beer garden
stands before the open closet
her hands still burning.
She smooths the fur collar,
the scarf, opens the gloves
crumpled like letters.
Nothing is lost
she says to the darkness, nothing.
The moon finally above the town,
The breathless stacks,
the coal clumps,
the quiet cars
whitened at last.
Her small round hand whitens,
the hand a stranger held
while the Polish music wheezed.
I'm drunk, she says,
and knows she's not. In her chair
undoing brassiere and garters
and waits for the need
The moon descends
in a spasm of silver
tearing the screen door,
the eyes of fire
drown in the still river,
and she's herself.
The little jewels
on cheek and chin
darken and go out,
and in darkness
staining her lap.
Philip Levine's Other Poems
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