John Grey



Against her breast, she wears her dead grandfather.

Even now, she can’t help thinking of how he died,

shuffled into the steaming oven,

suffocated as stiff as her black shoes.


In mid-summer, she drinks hot black coffee

in an old suburban Chicago house.

How tight her collar buttons at the throat.

How sad the farewell that slips between her blouse and bra.


The chain is as long as a train with many windows.

The one face twists when she turns her head.

It’s a typical portrait of the time.

The eyes can stare at her but no way


that they can see what’s coming.

The locket is small, no longer shiny.

It’s been with her year after year,

a brush with darkness and with light.


It’s from a time when Europe looked elsewhere.

Or when blindness outflanked vision.

So many names her tongue could sanctify.

When it’s just the one, her silence is a beautiful thing.



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