sidewalks in early spring

Along the long cave walls of the city


the children chalk their days


as I chalked mine in another city,


other days. The pastel flowers


that bloom in cement, the rainbows


of the trodden earth, the letters


of first names tried for the first time


in the open air—what is recorded


under us if not a kind of history?


Our fingers and the fingers

of the dead of all the cities took

the pollen of a new expression

to the skin and made a honey

for the weary, homeward step

that would one day be ours

and is ours now, the dark

squares of pre-dawn hitched

like boxcars empty even of memory

and stretching on and on, long block

to long block, vast city to vast city

become by dusk the vivid impulse

of the race, the scritch of every tongue

the white chalk inside each hand,

the motion of what we were and are

binding us to the first art and the last.