Drachma

Laura Kasischke has published eight collections of poetry and eight novels. For her most recent...

 

I’m not interested in one thing
in this museum case. Not

that coin, filthy, ancient.
Not that little marble phallus.
Not this tiny Isis, or Byzantine slave bracelet, or
blue-green shard of Roman glass.
What I want is that lost shoebox
full of faded Kodak snapshots back.

But I moved too many times when I was young.
Couldn’t settle.
Didn’t care.
A friend’s garage.
My ex’s basement.
A rented storage shed.

And my grandfather is still there, in
a worn-out chair, half-awake, a
book in his lap.

He held strange beliefs
and drank too much.
Collected things.
It would be

a man like him you’d be afraid to see, I think,
outside your window in the night if you
looked out and he was looking back. He

made a lot of noise the day he died, and
it took all day, but
I was a child, not
in the room itself, but also not outside. Years

later my mother would admit that it
was mostly wrong to leave a kid
in front of a television set
for seven hours listening to that.
But I was sloppy drunk, and
she was dying and didn’t know it yet
when she said this.

If I hadn’t been so careless for so long
with my possessions, I could show you.
You could see a photo of his face.

Instead, it’s in some box I left someplace.

Some Greek soldier’s drachma, wasted.
Some Roman housewife’s broken vase.

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