the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2007



D. H. Melhem

Memento Mori

Death wagers my bones
like dice
against the living room wall—
glances past bruises
at picture hooks, where

paintings return
to their vanished quadrangles
until they will no longer
hang there, and the room
is stripped of its furnishings
and the careful angles of placement
to advantage, like the slatted view of sky
from the sofa,
and the doorway opening to

               my aunt’s chairs originally housed
in a 1939 World’s Fair exhibition,
my sister-in-law’s Victorian card table,
folded, the console piano played by two children
for my mother teaching them,
the portrait, done in Paris, on a honeymoon,
a young girl. A globe topping a marble pedestal,
to find countries and a daughter working abroad
"so you‘ll always be able to know where I am."

Silence slipcovers the room. It will never
mean this much again, all at once, entering.


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