People at Night

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A night that cuts between you and you
and you and you and you
and me : jostles us apart, a man elbowing
through a crowd. We won't
look for each other, either-
wander off, each alone, not looking
in the slow crowd. Among sideshows
under movie signs,
pictures made of a million lights,
giants that move and again move
again, above a cloud of thick smells,
franks, roasted nutmeats-

Or going up to some apartment, yours
or yours, finding
someone sitting in the dark:
who is it really? So you switch the
light on to see: you know the name but
who is it ?
But you won't see.

The fluorescent light flickers sullenly, a
pause. But you command. It grabs
each face and holds it up
by the hair for you, mask after mask.
You and you and I repeat
gestures that make do when speech
has failed and talk
and talk, laughing, saying
'I', and 'I',
meaning 'Anybody'.
No one.

© Denise Levertov