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Relic

by Andrew Broadous

May 2019

The antique shop keeps wooden doors

unhinged, stripped of their satin luxury.

A bathtub is swimming with anchors

and chains, dozens of prickly red breaths

inching toward some abandoned vessel.

The log walls of this cabin teem with

 

China dolls, matchboxes, magazines

not yet Playboy, yellowed parchment

fond of French vanilla and almond.

This broken seashell has seen it all—

exchange students pacing the aisles,

a family that simply cannot decide.

 

What do I listen for when I press her

to my ear? Does she still have ukuleles

hidden in the margins of her skeleton?

I almost hear a boy too far out for his

own good. If this boy is me, this silver

speck is Sanibel, with its laughter like

 

colorful toy boats carried on waves

lapping against the tub. Water rings

remain where I once asked and the

shell politely answered. But now she

has fallen silent, the doors are shut,

their brass knobs as cold as the sea.