3. Preludes  I
THE WINTER evening settles downWith smell of steaks in passageways.Six o’clock.The burnt-out ends of smoky days.And now a gusty shower wraps        5The grimy scrapsOf withered leaves about your feetAnd newspapers from vacant lots;The showers beatOn broken blinds and chimney-pots,        10And at the corner of the streetA lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.And then the lighting of the lamps. II
The morning comes to consciousnessOf faint stale smells of beer        15From the sawdust-trampled streetWith all its muddy feet that pressTo early coffee-stands.With the other masqueradesThat time resumes,        20One thinks of all the handsThat are raising dingy shadesIn a thousand furnished rooms. III
You tossed a blanket from the bed,You lay upon your back, and waited;        25You dozed, and watched the night revealingThe thousand sordid imagesOf which your soul was constituted;They flickered against the ceiling.And when all the world came back        30And the light crept up between the shuttersAnd you heard the sparrows in the gutters,You had such a vision of the streetAs the street hardly understands;Sitting along the bed’s edge, where        35You curled the papers from your hair,Or clasped the yellow soles of feetIn the palms of both soiled hands. IV
His soul stretched tight across the skiesThat fade behind a city block,        40Or trampled by insistent feetAt four and five and six o’clock;And short square fingers stuffing pipes,And evening newspapers, and eyesAssured of certain certainties,        45The conscience of a blackened streetImpatient to assume the world. I am moved by fancies that are curledAround these images, and cling:The notion of some infinitely gentle        50Infinitely suffering thing. Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;The worlds revolve like ancient womenGathering fuel in vacant lots.