Locket

by Maud Mullan

Too clumsy to ever wear. Thick, irregular ellipse.
Clasp, hook, eyelet for the chain, wide enough to put an eye to.
White tally marks where the catch has missed,

Where the man opened, closed, and opened
Seeing his face, her face, over and over, for the first time.
May, 1915, they sent back the box. His watch, three bundled love poems

Her locket. String in a double bow, paper uncreased,
Mud still sitting in the links of chain. Round in the hand
weighing as much as an egg, and warm

with the heartbeat, a secret in two ovals of brown paper.
Snake eyes of tarnish, Yosemite hot springs
In photonegative. Victorian reliquary,

Hiding place in plain view, hollow as a steel drum.
Wrought rope coils bang against the sternum. Lips, fingers,
Touches – linger, come away with tastes

Of coins, blood, doorknobs. The woman stands in silhouette,
in gaslight, folding loops of hair. Her clock, her breathing and the click
and skipped beat as catch closes, opens, misses.