Back to Issue Six.

Ode to a Skeleton Key



Once I saw you as the silent tongue
in the bell of lamplight above my bed
and thought, how strange to have any other,

or locks for that matter, though even then
you betrayed only the oldest closet,
the dark no greed or anger would disturb.

Just the curious eye, at best, the small
god that flings an arrow through the hole.
To cross the still threshold and yet remain

concealed, is that what a child wants,
what a god imagines, or the coroner’s
blade, bearing down to part the curtain.

To be the one who walks invisibly
in paradise, or here among the mourners,
shy to lean over the closed eyes,

to slip the bolt, as if the many deaths
we cannot die were one now, our own
cut to fit, shadow to shadow, and turn.

Bruce Bond is professor of English at the University of North Texas, where he is poetry editor for American Literary Review. He is the author of nine poetry collections: Choir of the Wells: A Tetralogy (Etruscan, 2013); The Visible (LSU, 2012); Peal (Etruscan, 2009); Blind Rain (Louisiana State University Press, 2008); Cinder (Etruscan, 2003); The Throats of Narcissus (University of Arkansas, 2001); Radiography (BOA Editions, 1997); The Anteroom of Paradise (QRL, 1991; reissued by Silverfish Review, 2007); and Independence Days (Woodley, 1990). A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Texas Commission on the Arts, he has poems in Best American Poetry, The Yale Review, The Georgia Review, The New Republic, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Poetry.