Phill Provance

Chicago Tableau

               For D. Revell

It started with an umbrella.
Striped pink and green with
a mangled frame, ribs missing,
shaft bent, it lay on a piano
beside a top and yo-yo.

It started as a man dressed
in pinstriped pants, white shirt,
red bowtie and suspenders
frowned, his mussed, blond bangs
matted to his forehead.

It started with a woman,
the fine curls on the back of her neck
as it craned over the keyboard
and her slender hands poised over
the keys, as if debating
which to depress.

It started with the piano’s
walnut sheen—and a vase with
crisp irises, the yo-yo and blouse
and a stiff, gray cat by the pedals
all seemed to gasp in unison.

But it started like this
and ended like this.
For then there was a flash of white light

at the crosswalk, and a flood
of feet and arms washed down
Wabash, bowling me away,
and still, to this hour, I have no clue
what those mannequins were doing.

“Chicago Tableau” will appear in September 2020 as part of the collection A Plan in Case of Morning from Vine Leaves Press.

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