Emblems and Tokens

1 November 2016

Dear smoke, friend asleep in my hair,
we have done well together, what is burning
will burn a long time, yet. It was no one’s house,
and a house without people is a fallen heart.

The flying horses in the nursery, the old dresser
made of thumbs: all smoke, now, charred
to coal, and coal to ash, and everyone knows
where the ash goes, where we cannot follow,

where my people have all gone. Tomorrow I will wash
and my hair will smell of soap, my hands
will smell of soap, I will scrub my nails with a brush,
I will be clean, clean as the bluest flame,

and cleanly I will board the bus, and to my work,
and cleanly I will speak, to the lost and to the foolish,
always with smoke alive in my nose, always
alert for a blessing scrawled in the soot.

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