Discarded signs of peoples' lives—
we see everything
plummetting into the swirling vats.
Our hands grow huge, the knuckles red
patches of skin soaked to vulnerability.
Our trade, our trading fingers,
always the water, the floating grime.
Our chatter releases the casual dirt,
we take past weeks and
transmute them into whitenesses.
We are the ones who give the second chance,
make the linen and the satin perform again.
Appearances—we dress the play,
we see the beginnings and
the aftermath of love,
the innocent sweat, its stink,
the vanishing stains.
We see everything.
We see the blood on Mr. Keats' shirts.
We see the poetry fall back into prose.
gives me bread and healing.
Know nothing of the chords and textures,
just know I need him.
Past the spirals of adolescence
he returns now, later,
than half-forgotten actual lovers.
Heavier than town halls his reassurance,
more tender than student midwives
Perhaps he must also
have written on Wednesday afternoons,
pulling God in
through the windowpanes.