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GENEALOGY (poem) - Anthony Lawrence - Australia - Poetry International
 
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Genealogy
Open the door.
Enter.
Move to the desk.
Take the rubber stamp from its clip.
The stamp pad should be in the top drawer.
No?
Then slide the desk's roll-cover up,
paying close attention to the sound it makes.
There, beneath the stapler.
Test the pad with your finger.
What does that feel like?
Does your fingertip come away blue?
Look at this.
A doodle on the blotter.
What do you see?
Press the stamp to the pad.
Now to paper.
Will the name be legible, or will the rubber have perished,
leaving a blur of ink?
Can you read that?
Now, take the cigar box from the top of the desk.
White Owl.
A fine name for a cigar.
Open the box, but don't look inside.
Use your fingers for eyes.
 
Well?
 
Well,
the desk cover made a sound like a window being raised
before he vomited over the flowers.
The stamp pad felt like his cheek when I touched it,
fearful he might wake.
On the blotter I saw a man laid out in a motel room,
dead two days,
attended by angels washing drugs from his blood.
The name the stamp made was his.
Inside the cigar box?
Pencil shavings, rubber bands, buttons, a wedding ring
(I recognised the burred edge
that opened my face one night in the hall,
and the oval of onyx,
cold as a thumbnail on the tongue),
dead cockroaches, and a key.
There was something else that could have been a badge
or a medal, and something sharp that . . .
Someone's coming.
Quickly, over here, in the cupboard.
Be quiet and still
among the wreckage of my father's things.