This is where we keep them: toy trucks
with busted wheels, the broken stuff
we can’t get rid of, our old books,
the splintered chair, the fractured tabouret.

There’s something stagey in our garbage.
The furniture is theatrical and grim.
Our repudiated gestures still live there,
six feet under the kitchen. They wear
the vague insulted look of slighted relatives,
belonging, but pushed aside.
                                          The dark place gives
reluctant nobility to these disowned things.
I picture other broken objects down here,
not always on view: behind the dead palm,
a litter of stillborn phrases, the snapped
bunches of words, the shivered promises,
those dusty entreaties that still snatch the throat

—insistent as panhandlers or evangelists,
those shrill solicitors at Christmastime
whose poor clothes shine in snowy light.



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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 23 Number 10, on page 28
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