Nineteen floors above the floor of the city,
I sit by the window in a room too dark for reflections,
invisible to the middle-aged man
watching TV two floors above me in the opposite wing.
Beyond and below me the river holds its channel
parallel to Lower Wacker Drive.
I take in the tall and narrow view defined by
stone-edged buildings reaching far above me.
Beyond the bridge on Michigan Avenue,
the lights of cars pulse and throb along their lanes.
Their sounds are faint and dull,
like trivial memories of a long day’s traveling.
Just north of the bridge, the concrete curves
off to the right, gently swooping into the flight of stairs
leading down to the walkway along the water.
A series of smooth white arches sweep into the overhead curve
holding the span that keeps what is beneath
safe from what is held above.
Lights reflect across the breeze-brushed surface of the river,
a soft glimmering in the night,
another bit of beauty shining up from the floor of the city
while men sit chin to knees propped with wrinkled cardboard signs,
living off the pity of strangers
and sleeping in the doorways of burnished buildings.
I sit in the midst of this privilege, this seeing in the darkness,
slowly sipping cream sherry
while I contemplate another day of education conference,
walking the halls and aisles of this grand hotel,
a small piece of pasteboard pinned to my lapel
telling an indifferent world who I am and where I am from.