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In The Garden of Unclaimed Urns


by Philip F. Clark


Make no mistake, these sleeping names have minds. 
Here, within the bronze, silver, and porphyry vessels,

what is held are only forgotten ashes; 
unremembered lives that still urge memory.

Who forgot to come back for you, to these grasses 
among the starker angels?

The world has a way of losing its keys; forgetting its
late condolences.

The dead here are beautiful; adorned by calm and
clement weather, a verdigris has taken hold

in my hands. As I turn each of you in my palm,
I can be the one to claim you, and name your lives.

Like a city, surrounded by silence, your burnished
parapets beckoned this stray bystander.

I am the one who will not bypass your granite
breaths. I can know your once-before soundings,

and continue to ask: Jane, Calvin, Theodore --
Who are you, and where were you named?

Do you talk in the night, unravelling your stories,
among the unanswering elms?

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