Poetry April 2010

The Latch

After scraping eighty-three-year-old paint from four screw heads
holding the latch in place on the studio door,
and, having steadied the door on one out-thrust hip and running
the pointed tip of a kitchen knife around the lock-box to break the seal
of paint, your neighbor patiently removed each screw with the right-size,
old-fashioned screwdriver he had brought and jiggled the lock free
so he could pry open its metal back and fish out the broken spring,
the small, dark, steel coil and its detached tongue,
which could be replaced, he thought, by an antiquarian locksmith
on the other side of town in la rue du Courreau—
though the latch will be too late to keep in or out
the man who abandoned this house, and the good and ill spirits he courted here.

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