Flanking the museum entrance are two smoke-blackened,
headless figures. Their heads were lost in the war. Their mouths
are lying open somewhere like small caves in the weeds.

Today a heavy fog rolls between the office blocks.
If the statues could speak their voices would be
like the first hairs of frost in a hard winter.


I am waiting on the edge of a bleak construction site
on which four zebra-striped cement mixers
are rotating smoothly, churning out

their tonnage of cement. Behind me on a billboard
a giant hamburger bun is dripping a waterfall of cheese
that coagulates in a sticky pool at the exact level
of my neck. A current of windblown leaves

splits around the glass-and-steel buildings. Hooded crows
hop sideways among flying fast-food wrappers.

From somewhere amidst the rubble the authorities
have transported the capital of a neoclassical column and
deposited it among the flowerbeds

and ornamental trees of a city park. Lonely and bullet-pocked,
it is ignored by the troupe of red-capped children
running past it, kicking through the dry leaves.

Surrounded by stripped branches, facing winter,
perhaps I should dye my hair orange. Perhaps
sorrow will rise up and disappear in my orange hair.

About the author

Sy Margaret Baldwin is English by birth but has spent most of her adult life in California. As a birdwatcher she has trailed after…

Read the full bio

Issue 14 · February 2012

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