Howard Firkin
They step into the great cathedral of the night rain
and bow their heads and set their faces to their mourning,
their footsteps ringing down the flagstone puddles,
the censers of their breathing slowly to and froing.

   The singing ends the song
      a twig is sprung
   and shatters into rain

They reach the narrow steps and sway their way together,
ascending through a mist of prayer; their voices flicker,
their boot soles chant a perfect rhythm on the metal,
and cupped hands puff with air too wet to tinder dawning.

   The leaves drip down and spread
      in rings around
   the trees and shake the skies

The street lights float in hammered bowls that pock the asphalt;
a Meise tries its notes: a shadow in the darkness
when daybreak is an old man’s story half-recalled,
a memory his race and father chose to trust.

   The paths are flagged with clouds
      and twist like wind
   between the shadowed trees