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.