At a red light

by a snow-banked curb,
my bus stopped
beside a tattered man
sitting in a pool
of melting slush,
his tangled hair
and beard—
a matted mass
that cupped his face,
his eyes—
vacant smudges
smearing sallow cheeks.

A cop drew near,
leaning forward with a
supplicating mien,
coaxing him to come away.
He used no force,
but gently pleaded,
coddled, importuned.

The shivering man
sloshed and cowered
in the icy puddle.
Distracted by something
in its shallows,
he plunged his hand
into the water, splintering
his spectral image,

scattering the buildings
bearing down on him
from high above.