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St. James Infirmary

ISSUE:  Spring 2008

the absent have left the window open:
the last soldier, stricken,
his moustache gently covered over, has left the bed
undone; the nurse,
undone, opened the bedside table drawer
and pulled out a soul or a ghost, the dying
folded up neatly.
outside the window, the white forms of the dead
spin out, white
as the sheets twisted on the bed like great
powerless wings:
the clouds move by, in a still heaven,
all filaments, locks
of wool—the woolly dead—
and beards of fishes,
as the soldiers twirl
their ice-crystal ragamuffin moustaches, watching
with changed eyes
as the room strikes the hour and the bed
gently crumbles to dust, undone.


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