Dust to Dust
Mrs. M McClanahan 1517 Russell Street
I’d never touched it before—the small label
on the brass letterbox I gave my grandmother
forty years ago, memento I took from
that anchoring house when her brain
and body forgot their daily ablutions.
I pried it from one porch, nailed it
to another, marker that stopped me
this morning like a mezuzah, amulet
of the believer’s covenant, thin as holy
parchment. After sweeping the steps
of yellow haze, I touched for a moment
her letters and numbers, no less holy,
swore goodness within this dwelling.
But weather had brittled the ink, ghosted
my fingertip, the label staring blank.
I took what remained across the threshold—
rescues of the past emblazoned with passing.
I stood on faith of the unseen, my entering
and leaving foretold, failings of biblical
proportions swept to airy nothingness—
our faces in time’s locket, dust of my dust.