PARABLE OF SHADOWS
What turns cities gray are ghosts: that's where they answer
monotonous inquiries about the future
in monotones of ash, exhaust, and verdigris.
The residue they leave is like a sustained kiss
on this portico that sheltered one's live embrace;
on that marble sill where another leaned her face
into her arms and listened to the song of sirens
and taxis, and weighed the summer she held the reins
of a milk-paint horse, and no one called her in at dark.
The city ghosts touch gray is a moon-luminous ark,
they're its true passengers. The living are ballast,
perishables with no sure date stamped as their last.
Something stilled in them wants the facades to keep graying.
What the dead do with their colors, they're not saying.
© 2010 Robert Hill Long