Carol V. Davis
A man bends in the entryway of the market stalls
sprinkling salt from a box.
His boots are rubber, a green so pale
they are almost no color.
That is right because there is no sun,
no warmth this time of year.
The box of salt is also without color,
though it holds the memory of blue,
the curtain of sky over the Neva
in late spring, when couples sit
on steps of the embankment, saying little,
arms linked like the ornamental chains
of the cannons behind them.
Now the man surveys the floor, turns,
his feet sliding in a figure eight
as if skating on an indoor rink.
The salt mixes with snow and ice
riding in like parasites on the black boots
of the shoppers toting black bags already bulging.
If the door is propped open all day ice will form.
Then he will have to sprinkle more salt.
Or else stand aside to watch the women slip,
catch themselves or fall.
He will grade them on their performance
and they will receive low marks, every one of them.
—from Rattle #23, Summer 2005