At noon precisely, just as the bells began to ring,
the white peacock in the garden of Saint John the Divine
spread its glorious tail, making a rippling many-splendored
sound, like a sibilant wind rushing through many leaves.
The tips of its feathers, shaped like tiny V’s, reminded me
of doves descending, the promise of a season yet to come.
Three of us watched. A dark-haired woman clapped
at the spectacle, and a Spanish man asked for the name
in my language, then held out his arms and said, I love you.
The peacock turned full circle, then turned again.
It arched its head and cried, cried out, waiting
for an answering cry. But no cry came.
These Lenten weeks are wordless, gray and slow.
One waits for a sign that never comes, and then it does.
While out on Amsterdam, the traffic never slowed,
and strangers on the sidewalk, each alone,
hurried to wherever it was they were going,
not paying attention, just talking on their cell phones.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.