Robert’s Keys
Laure-Anne Bosselaar

Silver — a gleam on the corner of Haley & State yesterday:
three keys, Robert on a tiny dog tag.  They will never open
anything for me.

Robert.  What woman once whispered his name, stroking
her swollen belly — what man or woman whispers to him

today?  His keys in my hand now, as I walk, at low tide,
along a mussel gleamed, breeze-stroked beach.

Because they belonged to others & because I will never
know their story, I pick up buttons, gloves, ticket stubs,

consoled often by owning some small thing from other lives,
linked then to them then—

as I belong to their brief gleam here, to their dying.

Robert now against my skin for an instant of impossible intimacy,
almost sorrow-less, no one here to see me: an old woman, who walks straight

still, who mourns still, but head high, keys in fist,

as waves open & close their doors for her & the clouds turn
silver — & she sings a small song to herself, almost happy.


Laure-Anne Bosselaar is the author of The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, Small Gods of Grief, winner of the Isabella Gardner Prize for Poetry for 2001, and A New Hunger, selected as an ALA Notable Book.  She is the editor of four anthologies. She won a Pushcart Prize in 2007.  She and her husband, poet Kurt Brown, completed a book of translations from Flemish poet Herman de Coninck: The Plural of Happiness. She taught at Emerson College and Sarah Lawrence College, and is a member of the founding faculty at the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College. She is a lecturer at the University of California Santa Barbara and offers private tutoring and editing services.

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