To things we are ghosts, soft shapes
in their blindness that push and pull,
a warm touch tugging on a stuck drawer,
a face glancing by in a mirror
like a pebble skipped across a passive pond.
They hear rumors of us, things, in their own rumble,
and notice they are not where they were in the last century,
and feel, perhaps, themselves lifted by tides
of desire, of coveting; a certain moisture
mildews their surfaces, and they guess that we have passed.
They decay, of course, but so slowly; a vase
or mug survives a thousand uses. Our successive
ownerships slip from them, our fury
flickers at their reverie’s dimmest edge.
Their numb solidity sleeps through our screams.
Daguerrotypes Victorian travellers
produced of tombs and temples still intact
contain, sometimes, a camel driver, or beggar: a brown
man in a galabia who moved his head, his life
a blur, a dark smear on the unchanging stone.