You collect them. One was stolen from a neighborhood
house empty of all traces of its previous owners except
the crystal knob on the hallway door and the thin
iron key. Whoever bought the house wouldn’t care
about the lives lived in it before, or the echoes of footfall
or the way long shadows took on the shapes of those
who no longer sit at the tables or gaze out the windows. You

wear the stolen key sometimes on a black cord. Strange
adornment, tattoo of some other life you can’t recall
but also can’t set down. Someone must carry the dead, otherwise
we live in overpriced apartments on desirable streets,
built on rebar and scaffolding, oblivious to what lies
below. We live on farms fallen fallow or over cemeteries
or the catacombs of Paris where tourists stroll along corridors

of bones. After you see a thousand human skulls, or maybe
just a hundred, they lose their macabre intrigue. You could hold one
in your hands and barely think of how we’ll all meet
the same outcome. Then the furniture will be hauled out
to the street, the empty closet locked with a one-of-a kind
key — clavical, phalange, metatarsal, cervical rib —
a thing that could be so easily misplaced.

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