What is held here

by Jane Draycott

What is held here, weighing so little, keeps

close to the floor and where linoleum gives way

to wilderness, gathers in the shadows of stones.

 

The days pass like thieves, in the disinfection

of letters, the collective study of quarantine law

and the microscopic recitation of sand.

 

At the doors experts assemble for discussion

of germ theory and scum, and all the while night

like a ship at bay waits to present itself ashore

 

to pitch its tent of stars, the dome of its hammam

on which are printed all the ancient maps

of the lazaretto and the echo of your name in writing.

 

Beyond the window the world looks like a dream

where other men row their boats freely, turn

stones into bread, walk to the shops. Welcome.