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.
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.
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.