Crowd as Reservoir

      Rose and 35th, an address
for a Shakespearean theater,
      sought with no map and no directions,

wandering on foot in San Francisco,
            along Market and Powell,
      clang of cable cars against gray air,

where weekend shoppers gaze into windows-
at mannequins in swimsuits and linen, then drift
      into doorways to browse, to buy, to seek a meal,

brushing past a dred-locked pan-handler propped
against a marble facade, his Australian cattle dog
      dozing on a striped serape;

      my feet carry me through a café patio-
a maze of Oxfords, tennis shoes, Manolos,
      and wire chair-legs, testing my ability

to clamber over obstacles just as their waiters
      do, balancing trays with wine glasses full
and plates exuding the scent of egg, tomato, melted cheese;

on to the dining room with tapestried walls
and a high plaster ceiling, chandeliers hanging from medallions,
      the wood on the bar the only reflective surface,

      the chatter of suburban housewives,
with their trademarked bags of treasure,
      surpassed by the clatter of plates and silver,

while waiters dressed in black and white
      move on silent crepe soles
between kitchen, bar, and white-clothed tables;

      then down a hallway I travel-
always out of reach, watchful against collisions,
wary of the racks of gleaming silver and copper,

      among staff in white from head to foot-
towards the faded light, clamor, and steam-filled air
of the kitchen- its blank back wall a dead end.

Out on the sidewalk, I prefer not to ask for directions,
      but overhear a woman pointing out
a street sign and read the name Rose;

      With a number in the 20′s on a curbstone,
the numbers must go up, so I begin to climb,
      the way narrowing, lined with stairs,

parks green between the high-rises, a musical
      soiree glittering out of one,
and though I’ve probably missed the curtain

at my play, pass this by, behind it’s iron-railed fence,
where numbers abruptly drop down
      to the hundreds, where I’m surrounded

by condominiums under construction,
some no more that frames, some stuccoed
      and painted in bright Italian shades,

      roadways and driveways in suspense,
a steam roller idle here, a cement
                  mixer stilled there;

it dawns on me that I am heated with exertion,
      held down by a weight resembling
an oversized comforter, suffering from something like jet lag.

Trina Gaynon