After the Last Bulletins

by Richard Wilbur

After the last bulletins the windows darken 
And the whole city founders readily and deep, 
Sliding on all its pillows 
To the thronged Atlantis of personal sleep, 
And the wind rises. The wind rises and bowls 
The day’s litter of news in the alleys. Trash 
Tears itself on the railings, 
Soars and falls with a soft crash, 
Tumbles and soars again. Unruly flights 
Scamper the park, and taking a statue for dead 
Strike at the positive eyes, 
Batter and flap the stolid head 
And scratch the noble name. In empty lots 
Our journals spiral in a fierce noyade 
Of all we thought to think, 
Or caught in corners cramp and wad 
And twist our words. And some from gutters flail 
Their tatters at the tired patrolman’s feet, 
Like all that fisted snow 
That cried beside his long retreat 
Damn you! damn you! to the emperor’s horse’s heels. 
Oh none too soon through the air white and dry 
Will the clear announcer’s voice 
Beat like a dove, and you and I 
From the heart’s anarch and responsible town 
Return by subway-mouth to life again, 
Bearing the morning papers, 
And cross the park where saintlike men, 
White and absorbed, with stick and bag remove 
The litter of the night, and footsteps rouse 
With confident morning sound 
The songbirds in the public boughs.