The Reunification Center


We brought pictures of the missing,


held gingerly, by the cropped margins,


as if the eyes were scalding; or food:


steaming casseroles without ladles,


though the night was mild; Evian;


M&M's, which we tried to hand out


in that cordoned-off street


where an ambulance chugged empty.

And each stranger refused, a little pained,


no, no, I'm here to help; we offered aspirin,


stock certificates, a child's rocking horse,


a teddy bear with an empty eye socket,


but no one consented to receive that treasure.

A doctor ashen with fatigue shouted


into a cell phone, shaking it


when it didn't answer; a digger


dozed hugging his shovel;


a survivor, mesmerized by the portraits,


stunned at their beauty, compared them


scar by scar with the faces of the living.

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