Now’s the Time

On the edge of Vienna and lost,
I walk off the map into an alley
where sidewalk vendors squat beside
strange treasure spread on tablecloths:

ebony bracelets carved as snakes,
necklaces of silver coins, lace scarves,
porcelain elephants, intricately painted eggs.
I want everything. I can’t choose.

Then, someone whistles sharply: a six-note signal
I recognize from Charlie Parker’s saxophone.
Vendors roll tablecloths into sacks and run.

Instantly, the alley empties. Only old bricks
with fresh graffiti. I stand in the middle
of this magic trick as two policemen walk the beat.

First Published in Crannóg Magazine