Denise Levertov

The World Outside

On the kitchen wall a flash 
of shadow: 
                  swift pilgrimage 
of pigeons, a spiral 
celebration of air, of sky-deserts. 
And on tenement windows
a blaze
            of lustered watermelon:
stain of the sun
westering somewhere back of Hoboken.

The goatherd upstairs! Music
from his sweet flute
roves from summer to summer
in the dusty air of airshafts
and among the flakes
of soot that float
in a daze from chimney
to chimney—notes
remote, cool, speaking of slender
shadows under olive-leaves.     A silence.

Groans, sighs, in profusion,
with coughing, muttering, orchestrate
solitary grief; the crash of glass, a low voice
repeating over and over. “No.
No. I want my key. No you did not.
No.”—a commonplace.
And in counterpoint, from other windows,
the effort to be merry, ay, maracas!
—sibilant, intricate—the voices wailing pleasure,
                arriving perhaps at joy, late, after sets
have been switched off, and silences
are dark windows?