Tomas Venclova - ON THE BOULEVARD BY TOWN HALL

You are indistinct, but the setting’s explicit:
gas-meters, coal fumes, the narrow kitchen’s
stench, cracked pavements, sparrow fleets,
the baroque bedecked in clouds and pigeons.

Here, almost a half-century ago, I entered
the universe you had managed to fashion
out of rare, leftover scraps of childhood
- bas-reliefs, cushions, poverty and porcelain.

My hand once sought your rustling clothes.
I stared past the gaunt skin reflecting upon
the floral tablecloth. Even then, the peonies
foretold your future: the abandoned garden

that you now inhabit. Others sit in the cafés.
For them, our century’s shorter than a minute.
The boulevard is clear, and the future’s arrived -
when it shouldn't have. You’re no longer in it.