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Temple Thief

by Adam Sass

Nameless one
Whose hands spurn ablution:
In your pricing eye all things
Yield meaning to measure -
A certain weight of gold,
A certain length of silk.

Last week's takings are gone.
At the time they seemed the world,
And you almost thought to keep them.
But tarnish soon crept in from their edges,
And it's best that they've sold.

At the market they are curious.
Where did you come by these?
They ask, squint-eyed against the dust
Billowing in from the desert
Just beyond the walls.

Oh, this is an old gift I never found use for,
And this I am selling for a friend,
And this for a neighbor.
You know how it is,

You say, laughing, laughing:
A coin's hollow ring
In a brass heart.

Would you laugh so
If you were not terrified?

Nameless one,
In the evenings
When you look at your hands,
Thinking of your trade,
Fear lights its cold candles
In the corners of your room,

And from their shadow-play
You conjure a stranger
Who points across
A crowd of penitents
And shouts a name
That could only be yours.





                                                                  


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