Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Inventory

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Inventory

Article excerpt

I am the room where I sit,

with its clock and barometer,

its photograph of my grandfather's

law office,

every black suit

brushed, every Victorian waistcoat

buttoned. I see my face

among those clerks and partners.

They might have found a desk for me in their chambers.

I am my mother at age eight

with a ribbon in her hair and a smile of delight,

holding the reins of a pony.

Fables of war and migration

find their way to this mountainside

and enter the quietness here:

Stonewall Jackson bivouacked on the Shenandoah,

Constantine when he turned his back

on Rome's burnt altars, weeds straggling up

through the paving stones of the Appian

Way. And Mao

circumambulating by night the city he would attack-

to drop

his troops on the enemy

like a millstone

on an egg, "the solid on the void."

Here too is my Book of Common Prayer,

exhaling an air

of starched vestments and swept limestone,

this acolyte's copy from All Saints' Chapel

threadbare

now, with a penciled-in admonition,

"Keep on altar steps,"

which I have disobeyed. …

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