Dust to Dust
Linda Parsons

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.

Linda Parsons

is the poetry editor for Madville Publishing and the copy editor for Chapter 16, the literary website of Humanities Tennessee. She is published in such journals as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Terrain, The Chattahoochee Review, Baltimore Review, and Shenandoah. Her sixth poetry collection, Valediction, is forthcoming from Madville in 2023. Five of her plays have been produced by Flying Anvil Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee.