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by Stephen Roger Powers

  • When I learned all matter has gravity, I refused to believe.
  • It explained why pewter-framed London photos stayed,
  • and scuffed red dancing shoes far back in the closet,
  • antique tea kettles boxed up from house to house,
  • but didn’t explain the loss of hubcaps,
  • olive oil bottles taken by the ex,
  • a son across town who hasn’t called in seven years.
  • Searching in the basement for a glass-topped table unseen
  • since moving in, I find folders of yellowed French and German
  • essays written in college, held together with rusted staples
  • and words I forgot I knew, meanings long gone.
  • Words outlast those who wrote them.
  • That’s the beauty in Christmas Eve
  • suicides of poets, and so is listening
  • hard for weakening echoes of last ones whispered.
  • Every story we’ve made survives this broken life,
  • deep-rooted in grace of their own,
  • until their margins wear down like a statue carved in reverse,
  • reverting to a block of marble.
  • Cleaning is how I get trapped.
  • Barefoot on a chair, leaning on tiptoes,
  • dusting the top of the cabinet.
  • Three crystal wine goblets with hand-painted mountains
  • shatter on the ceramic tile floor and spread
  • a blanket of shards and peaks.
  • What am I to do but believe now?
  • Away down the street papers with foreign words I once typed,
  • accents added in pencil, sail like children
  • because the trash collectors are careless and gravity
  • doesn’t exist.

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