by Robert Morgan
Under dust’s upholstery
the wood itself still has the polish
of an apple,
the work of generations
of twisting children.
Salt is still in the grain
from afternoon singings and revivals.
The oil from sweating hands
and the rubbing of sweaty cloth
have left a finish
long after paint has cracked
and peeled, and in spite of the names carved
and figures drawn with pocketknives.
Only nailheads have rusted through the shine.
the pews are arranged like coffins
in a mausoleum.
It’s like visiting an old courtroom
where you touch the wood expecting it to vibrate
with the voices of accuser and condemned.
The abandoned theater
will not perform.
Red Owl: Poems
W. W. Norton & Company, December 1, 1972