if not for the sooted snow, the pale gray paper birch skeletons with their very few persistent leaves watching the pedestrians stretched thin across the cold. An old man plays piano, an improvisational celebration of all the encircling after-sunset busy-nesses of the city just beyond the park, a memorized elegy for private losses given voice, that classic cinematic dance number you’ve heard and watched all your life, your days, all the thick, slow-moving mid-night minutes. There’s a pitcher on the piano, coins and paper promisories left by others who can’t sleep. At some point, a suddenly there then gone crescendo causes you to rise from your bench-bed, don the castaway coat you use as a blanket, and walk the few steps to where the formally attired musician commands the percussive mechanisms from his own bench. He looks up, smiles knowingly as you say thank you for reminding me what love felt like and turn away to dream again as Für Elise begins.

(after the illustration “Nocturne,” by Akira Kusaka)