2013: Gaylord Brewer: Ghost Cleans Himself Up Before Visiting Monument of the War Dead

Ghost Cleans Himself Up Before Visiting Monument of the War Dead
Gaylord Brewer

Hommage aux Enfants de la Commune Morts pour la France: 1914-1918—G. Simon, F. Triches, P. Hergé, M. Ponce. J. Dauvet, M. Delaunay, J. Parisot, H. Vedel, R. Boudin. 1939-1945—J. Dheurle, H. Robigo.

Steaming kettle, cracked bowl, palms
risen dripping to the face. The stingy foam
of a gray brick of soap rubbed hard
into jowls and chin. A stropped edge

also baptized in font—hot, hungry steel
high at attention on the cheek bone.
Ghost, study the eyes of the animal
staring back, eyes once blue and said

to be handsome, now gray, remote,
as much mystery to you as bête noire
as they were as man. Dead man’s bowl,
by the way, dead man’s soap and razor.

A casualty who won’t begrudge the loan.
Bring down the militant blade, path
cleared and widened. Isthmus of upper lip.
Then from neck up—steady, coiffeur—

by intimate stroke, tangled prophet
transformed to quite-presentable ghoul.
Bow the head, Ghost, to a cup of hands,
dry with a rough towel left hanging

as if for your private use. For indulgence
cologne, slap of alcohol on raw skin.
The animal looks weakened, unfamiliar
to itself. But homage, Ghost, even so—

enfant-faced and en route to its grave.

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