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Archaeology of 1956.

You must show dignity, you are entering a sacred place Up four steps
past columns, through the heavy, gold-bordered
  doors Onto echoing marble, but hushed now--dignity, dignity By the
distances, calm men in suits, and dark oak wainscotting Victorian,
clubby, curt, demanding even in memory Behind the tellers' cages a
glimpse of the vault astounds you The door a round steel wall, its thick
bolts gray, pneumatic Open now--the whole high-ceilinged enterprise open
late on
  Fridays To accept and protect your paycheck, all of your paychecks
then A teller behind bars takes it along with your little book, sober as
  passport Thumps them with rubber stamps and hands back a few bills You
have had your brief encounter with the powers
Out into the street, alive with crowds of others like you Young parents
with young children, the boom still expanding Past the city park with
its popcorn stand, war memorial, and
  fountain of mineral water staining the concrete brown The four-story
department store offering everything any one of
  you could ever need Food, shoes, underwear, sewing patterns, bed sets
And the small enticing catalogue outlets for Sears Roebuck and
  Montgomery Ward Into the dime store where bridge mix and
  peanuts glimmer dully behind glass Combs, charm bracelets, and
flip-flops jostle in the shallow open bins The lunch counter is closed,
a stand with a poster for hot beef
  sandwiches blocks the entrance Parakeets whistle and chirp in the back
near the radios Such cheap abundance, so many families weaving around
the thin
  aisles You are in there and it is all gone and there is nothing I
Rex, Majestic--these are the names of theaters They sing their faded
claims now to dim boxes with the seats sold
  off Memory prowls a foyer past the velvet rope Up the broad,
thick-carpeted stairs--not dignity but elegant
  indulgence To the lounge, the balcony for smokers where it can place
you at last It is paradise up here, the speakers are close You sit near
the big side lamps flowering like torches pointing up To an ocean of
stylized constellations engulfing the ceiling More names, seemingly
endless: Academy, Lyric, Alhambra, State Kingdoms of stucco, domed
capitols, resurgence of Athens or
  Al-Andalus, places you would never see Everything in these show hails
conspiring to escape the Friday-night
  main street As ravaged and abandoned now as they are 
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Author:Bogen, Don
Publication:Northwest Review
Article Type:Poem
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2010
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