from The Pattern More Complicated
by Alan Williamson

The view out my window, at the Wyndham,
is like those archaeologies of my life,
strata whose lights and colorations are
unthinkable to each other. Men in yarmulkes
stand past dusk at long tables, tinkering small machines.
Mornings, one floor down, a secretary
bustles in with coffee and sits facing the airshaft,
by her potted plant. One day
the boss calls her out; she comes back and just sits there, glum.
I watch her not just because she’s pretty, or reminds me
how my student once worked a job like that, in New York—
the delight of strange detail, and then the loneliness—
but something else, that for a moment makes
the “change” or “happiness” that was all we wanted, younger,
quite immaterial. Life, beyond my knowing.


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