Two Tenements

Poem by Rhina P. Espaillat

Built side by side, two tenements, so near—
three or four feet between them, if that much—
that if a hand from one were to appear
and open any window, it could touch
a neighbor’s hand where I would have it come
out of the facing window. Picture them,
leaving behind the gloom they venture from
to bridge the gap, a braided double stem
sprouting out of each winter to say spring.
But, no, the panes are blackened on each side
and every window shut, and not a thing
tendrils across and over that divide
to brighten the stark bricks, the dark below.
And still the passing eye would have it so.