It is under a tired moon that Minerva
defends the city's honor;

before the children wake to
the Piper's melody and the nightmares
crawl back into their darkened niches,
before the sun gathers enough courage
to face the world again -

like a shamefaced groom who has left
too many would-be wives at the altar.
Come next morning all anyone remembers is
the jilted bride dragging her lace and tears
across the unlighted miles of the sky.
It is the talk of the city.

But now the sun is a cauldron in which
subtle furies stir, and
workers labor not under
the moon's protecting veil,
but under red scathing touches
of a madman.

Then pulses, an organ -
the sun pounds with rage at the air,
splits like gossamer or torn flesh,
flees, flinging
saltant drops of recognition upon the workers.
They will rest upon the children's skin
like wax,

and as the city struggles to regain its honor,
Minerva will lift her eyes to sneak one peek
at the sweet sleeping faces -
clean, silent, lucent.

Her gaze is an alembic.