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Fall 2009

Street Scene

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Someone’s shadow and the shadow of his dog
Are what I see through my window looking out
Across the street. Someone’s shadow, and then
As the leaves of the tree just outside my window
Move a little, this way, or that, with the breeze,
It’s Mr. Wrenn, taking his dog for a walk,
Or being out there with his dog, in order, maybe,
To be seen as one of us; the two of them,
Standing there, vacant of conversation;
His tan shirt, brown pants, bald spot, his trivial pug
Absurdly the color of a golden retriever.

That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows

The red truck that was parked in the parking lot
That they have walked past without seeming to notice it
Is now leaving the parking lot. It is as if
The man and his dog, both of them, knew that the truck
Was going to move, because all three of them have
Become, in common, elements of the scene
That I’m observing and so all three of them seem
To understand that they have a common purpose.
The side of the red truck just a moment ago
Had, painted on it in white graphics, CHARETTE.
That word was on it when it left my view.
Now, a blue truck with no letters on its side,
So giving no information about its purpose,
Turns into the parking lot and then backs into
The same slot under the overhang of the building.
A shifting of the leaves that I’m looking through
Prevents me from seeing who gets out of the truck
And where it is he goes. It is as if
The brilliant red truck with the white letters on it
Outside my range of sight had changed its color,

Whereon the stars in secret influence comment

And therefore it is as if I had imagined
The change of color, the vanishing of the one truck,
The sudden appearance of the other one.
Magic. A trick of magic performed by me,
Something that I performed because I saw it.
Or the trick was performed by the unseen hand of the world.
CHARETTE went out of business in that instant.
And what became of Mr. Wrenn and his dog?
Hurled down to the Underworld, twisting and turning,
The two of them falling, the dog’s leash fluttering
In the eerie light down there through which they fall.

—David Ferry

David Ferry’s many books of poetry and translation include Of No Country I Know and The Epistles of Horace. He lives in Massachusetts.

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