I put on again the vest of many pockets.

It is easy to forget
which holds the reading glasses,
which the small pen,
which the house keys,
the compass and whistle, the passport.

To forget at last for weeks
even the pocket holding the day
of digging a place for my sister’s ashes,
the one holding the day
where someone will soon enough put my own.

To misplace the pocket
of touching the walls at Auschwitz
would seem impossible.
It is not.

To misplace, for a decade,
the pocket of tears.

I rummage and rummage—
for Munich, for Melbourne,
to Oslo.
A receipt for a Singapore kopi.
A device holding music:
Bach, Garcia, Richter, Porter, Pärt.

A woman long dead now
gave me, when I told her I could not sing,
a kazoo.
Now in a pocket.

Somewhere, a pocket
holding a Steinway.
Somewhere, a pocket
holding a packet of salt.

Borgesian vest,
Oxford English Dictionary vest
with a magnifying glass
tucked inside one snapped-closed pocket,
Wikipedia vest, Rosetta vest,
Enigma vest of decoding,
how is it one person can carry
your weight for a lifetime,
one person
slip into your open arms for a lifetime?

Who was given the world,
and hunted for tissues, for chapstick.



From Ledger (Knopf, 2020). First appeared in The Times Literary Supplement. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.