Robert’s Keys

By Laure-Anne Bosselaar

          Silver—a gleam on the corner of Constance & State
yesterday—I picked up three keys,
                                   Robert printed on a tiny dog tag. 

What woman once chose his name, as she stroked 

her pregnant belly—& who whispers 

                                                his name to him today? 

I walk, at low tide, along this mussel-gleamed, breeze-

stroked beach. His keys in my hand. 

                                               They will never open anything for me.


 Because they belonged to others & because I will never 

know their story, I pick up 
                                               buttons, gloves, ticket stubs— 

consoled by owning some small thing from other lives & be 
linked to them—as I belong 

                                               to their brief glint here, to their dying.


 Those keys now against my skin for an instant of impossible
intimacy, no one here to see me:
                                               an old woman who mourns still, paces

a beach, useless keys in fist, as waves open &
                          lock their large doors as
she hums a small song to herself, almost happy.

Laure-Anne Bosselaar is the author of four poetry books, the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and edited five anthologies. She won the James Dickey Prize for Poetry in 2020. Her new book, These Many Rooms, came out from Four Way Books. She teaches at the Solstice Low Residency MFA Program and served as Santa Barbara’s Poet Laureate (2019-2021). Also by this poet: "Sundowner Wind" and "Ocean Rooms"