It’s Monday morning, so it must be time for another Poem of the Week. Though pandemic travel restrictions prevent us still from visiting some of our favorite haunts, here is a piece to send you off on a virtual visit to somewhere far away. Enjoy, be well, stay healthy.
In the flea markets north of Paris,
the possessions of past lives wash up
on the gentle tide of calculating hope
that what was once owned will again be bought,
was once cherished will again be desired,
that the investment of years and dust pays interest.
The fountain pen flow of wish you were here
sent beyond context to echo in dense postcard collections,
card catalogs indexing lost memories.
Glass stoppers widowed by long-broken decanters,
the accidental obstinance of their solidity
a sentence on each to endure beyond purpose
but for the hope of being re-paired, against all odds,
with a whole vessel whose dry, empty throat
thirsts for their precise diameter to be complete.
Unsigned paintings of unknown people
make brief eye contact across lifetimes,
stern in their distant moment.
Patinaed keys in a basket,
passwords encoded in delicately ramifying metal
waiting to be whispered in long-vanished locks,
answers to questions replaced by deadbolts.
Weapons, blades and barrels,
lethality antiqued by more efficient descendants,
decorative quaintness excusing the morbid allure
of edges perhaps once redly wet,
of hot metal perhaps once guiding shot to flesh.
Pitted desks where plans were sketched, letters penned,
difficult decisions twisted into wood grain,
dark drawers that sheltered secrets and trifles,
planted sturdy through the blink of a room’s history.
Books last read by candlelight,
chandeliers once tinkled by bomb concussions,
musical instruments that outlived all teachers,
medical models, tired chairs, family photographs like drifts of leaves,
all this and an endless more flows to Saint Ouen,
waits paused in that curated purgatory
to rejoin the human story of things.