Inscrutable Sonnets


Scrutiny: n., early 15c., …from PIE root *skreu- “to cut; cutting tool” …first recorded c. 1600. Perhaps the original notion of the Latin word is “to search through trash,” via scruta (plural) “trash, rags” (“shreds”)

To catalogue the shards that make up a thing,
to rescue them from the dustbin. Why should a sliver
of laundry soap, a yellowed letter or broken rosary
chain mean anything? Damp rot that blotted those rooms
of barracks green, that gloved the small red phosphorus
heads of every matchstick. If I should learn to work
with hook and needle the patterns on window panels
and on bedspreads, before I finished I might forget
the color that rubbed against the hills at sundown.
On the sill, a row of wooden idols sits on their haunches:
not giving anything away, not altering; not withering,
not granting. I pass a dust-cloth around their carved
eyelids, their earlobes, their crossed arms; I even wipe
between the thighs where I think their sex might be.

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