Letter by Letter | Claire Schwartz | Granta

Letter by Letter

Claire Schwartz

In his office in the attic, in his favorite khaki pants
the Archivist carefully sets down the glass case
of his body so as not to rattle the exhibit of his mind.
He wears gloves to stroke the name on the envelope,
the name written in a florid hand trained by long-ago
love. To live among the dead, the Archivist thinks.
His eyebrows do a little jig. With fingers strange
to his wife, the Archivist traces the name of the street
in the village that burned. The street wears the name of the flower
the Archivist’s mother tucked behind her ear in a photograph
languishing in a desk drawer. The Archivist carries his mind
into each house. Here, the Cook makes love, his hand
brushing flour against his boyfriend’s nipple. There,
the Tailor’s satisfied song of scissors bisecting
a ream of red. A girl whose mouth makes an O
around which chocolate makes another mouth runs
through the road. The road which runs through

Claire Schwartz

Claire Schwartz is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection Civil Service and the poetry editor of Jewish Currents. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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