Poem by Stuart Dybek

The garments worn in flying dreams

were fashioned there—

overcoats that swooped like kites,

scarves streaming like vapor trails,

gowns ballooning into spinnakers.


In a city like that one might sail

through life led by a runaway hat.

The young scattered in whatever directions

their wild hair pointed, and gusting

into one another, fell in love.


At night, wind rippled saxophones

that hung like windchimes in pawnshop

windows, hooting through each horn

so that the streets seemed haunted   

not by nighthawks, but by doves.   


Pinwheels whirled from steeples

in place of crosses. At the pinnacles

of public buildings, snagged underclothes—

the only flag—flapped majestically.

And when it came time to disappear


one simply chose a thoroughfare

devoid of memories, raised a collar,

and turned his back on the wind.

I closed my eyes and stepped

into a swirl of scuttling leaves.

Photo: “Chicago Union Station,” by Jack Delano, 1943