Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Geezers in Freezers

A Winter Ode to the Old Men of Lummus Park, Miami, Florida
Donald Justice

Risen from rented rooms, old ghosts
Come back to haunt our parks by day,
They crept up Fifth Street through the crowd,
Unseeing and almost unseen,
Halting before the shops for breath,
Still proud, pretending to admire
The fat hens dressed and hung for flies
There, or perhaps the lone, dead fern
Dressing the window of a small
Hotel. Winter had blown them south--
How many? Twelve in Lummus Park
I counted, shivering where they stood,
A little thicket of thin trees,
And more on benches, turning with
The sun, wan heliotropes, all day.

O you who wear against the breast
The torturous flannel undervest
Winter and summer, yet are cold,
Poor cracked thermometers stuck now
At zero everlastingly,
Old men, bent like your walking sticks
As with the pressure of some hand,
Surely they must have thought you strong
To lean on you so hard, so long!