Sean Lause




Inheritance

In the back of my grandmother’s antique store
I overhear my grandfather chanting:
“I don’t want to die. I’m afraid to die,”

and my grandmother soothes him, “I know, I know.”

And she opens, opens doors, drapes, blinds and windows,
old glass lights in carillon colors,
and still he cries his fear of dying.

But I am five and the watches are asleep.

Clocks line the walls, each hushed at a separate hour.

This store is a theater of light,
crystal air, tobacco scents, and hard-bound

books clasping secret knowledge.

And now her hands guide me to the garden,

and I am all lit crystal and sun,
as the world rehearses another day.
The light stings like shattered glass,
and broken strings are blowing in the trees.


Random photograph

It’s the two in the background

who interest me.

A young woman, brunette, pretty,

in plain cloth coat. Holding

her hand, a girl, say—eight?

She clutches a violin case in her free hand.

They might be sisters.

They are not the focus of the shot.

Imagine: She takes lessons

from a superb concert violinist
currently in need of work.

Imagine: The older one is well-

educated, was once in love,
yet something is gone in her eyes.

Perhaps a childhood dream

of studying art in Vienna.

Perhaps a loss within a loss?
It’s hard to tell in the world of the gone.

The man is the camera’s intention.

Tall, blonde. Eyes like a ferret.
Say he’s wealthy. Look at those
perfect, half-moon fingernails!
Double-breasted suit of charcoal flannel,

ring on his pinky, must be crystal blue.

So he’s wealthy then. He’s speaking

silence. His mouth forever open.

Imagine: He’s a businessman. All business.

Money in furs. But mostly synthetic rubber

these days. Started with ashtrays,

then expanded into affluence.
His name? Gunther sounds good.

But it’s the others who draw me in—
nameless, barely in view,
headed somewhere perhaps un-nameable.

I found the photo in a rummage sale,
lining the bottom of a moldy box.

Owner: Unknown. No names. On back:
“Leipzig, 1937.”





Sean Lause is the author of three collections, most recently Midwest Theodicy (Taj Mahal Review, 2019). A professor of English at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio, his poems have appeared in the Innisfree Poetry Journal, as well as The Minnesota Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Illuminations and Poetry International.








                                    

 

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