I believe in this stalled magnificence,
this churning chaos of traffic,
a beast with broken spine,
its hoarse voice hooded in feathers
and mist; the baffled eyes
wink amber and slowly darken.
Of men and women suddenly walking,
stumbling with little sleighs
in search of Tibetan houses —
dust from a far-off mountain
already whitens their shoulders.
When evening falls in blurred heaps,
a man losing his way among churches
and schoolyards feels under his cold hand
the stone thoughts of that city,
impassable to all but a few children
who went on into the hidden life
of caves and winter fires,
their faces glowing with disaster.
"The Snowbound City". Copyright © 1993 by John Haines. Reprinted from The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Source: The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer: Collected Poems
(Graywolf Press, 1993)