“London: St. James Street, Out the Window” by Eileen Moeller

a woman, sitting at a desk
framed by a rectangle of light,
looks through a rectangle of dusk,
that sections off a tree, the curb,
two cars, a brick row house across the way,
lit by smaller rectangles, one of which
frames a fragment of room in which
I sit watching her as she writes.
Writing her as she watches.


I don’t like getting dressed in unnatural light,
and want to fight the city this way,
leaving the curtains open,
as if we lived in the woods.

Then I turn my back to the glass,
move quick as a rabbit for cover,
mindful of keen-eyed foxes out there,
hungry to pounce on my privacy.


After all, even I can’t resist
the lure of a big pink blur, clearly naked
swimming behind rippled glass.

I am caught like a fish
by this bear, as I lean toward
the window, waiting for coffee to brew.
Feel like an ass, watching an awful
reality show, titled One Man’s Toilette.

He reddens, and gawks, and scrapes at
his flesh, a magnifying mirror scissoring out,
so he can examine his every pore.
When he goes on safari
up cavernous nostrils,
the gleam of his clippers sends me
wheeling toward the cupboard,
and the zen of an empty cup.


I clean mildew from window frames and sills.
Red, it is, like kelp, grown in a tiny
ocean of condensation: product of a dance
going on near the glass, as heat wraps itself
around the insistent thrust of each cold draft.

Which makes me turn to you, as snow blows
wild outside. Salty, warm, and damp will be
the dance we do,  awash in a gray tide of light.


Two months we’ve watched the man next door
go across the street and through the gate
wondering what he was up to.

Dreamed him in one of those gardens
tucked like a beautiful secret behind the houses,
a bliss of vegetables in need of tending,
a bower of pale pink roses.
Something we yearned for
as spring crept over everything.

Him with his rusty knees and swollen feet,
wobbling over to Paradise day after day,
while we were trapped in this brick box.

That’s what I wished he would say,
instead of what he told me, when I finally asked:

My  neighbors eighty-five and a widow.
Weve lived here thirty years.
Her husband was my mate.
She doesn’t get out much any more,
poor dear, so I bring her groceries
and fix her a cup of tea. It’s the least
I can do, and pray that someone,
some day, sees their way
to doing such for me.


I watch the girl,
in the garden flat below,
brick up her flower beds
to keep the cats out,
as my hands imagine touching
that damp earth, now choked, compressed,
unable to yield to the feel of skin,
or be stirred awake by the midwife sun.
Tomorrow I’ll plant purple pansies
on the sill in a white plastic box.


The tree out front, caught plain-leafed now,
and jaded as a weed, belies its former life,
as a blushing girl looking up at her first beau.
All her pink snow, loosed on the sill
by late May gusts, and long ago swept up,
a bit bruised, and hauled away in a skip.

Soon we’ll be leaving this place,
bumping our suitcases down the steps,
and into a cab. I watch for it out the window.
One last look before we give this place the slip.

Photo 35

Eileen Moeller and her husband, Charlie, have lived in the Philadelphia area for the last twelve years. She has two books: Firefly, Brightly Burning, published in 2015 by Grayson Books, and The Girls in Their Iron Shoes, published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press, and has many poems in literary journals and anthologies. Her blog: And So I Sing: Poems and Iconography, is at http://eileenmoeller.blogspot.com

Please note: Poetry is compressed to fit smart phone screens. If you are reading this poem on a phone screen, please turn your screen sideways to make sure that you are seeing correct line breaks for this poem.

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