Laura Kasischke

I’m not interested in a single
thing in this museum case.
Not that coin, filthy, ancient.
Not that little marble phallus.
Not this tiny Isis, or this
Byzantine slave bracelet, or that blue-
green shard of Roman glass.

What I want is that
lost shoebox full of faded snapshots back.

But I moved too many times
when I was young.
Couldn’t settle.
Didn’t care.
A friend’s garage.
My ex’s basement.
A rented storage shed.

And now my grandfather is still there, waiting
in a worn-out chair, half-
awake, a book
closed in his lap. He

held strange beliefs
and drank too much.
Collected things.
He made a lot of noise
the day he died.
I was a child, not in the room
itself, but also not outside.

Years later
my mother would admit
it might have been wrong to leave a kid
in front of a television
set for seven hours, listening
to that. But I

was sloppy drunk
when she said this,
and she was dying, too, by then, and if

I hadn’t been so careless
for so long
with my possessions, I could show you now
a photo of his face.

Instead, it’s in some box I left someplace.

Some Greek soldier’s drachma, wasted.
Some Roman housewife’s broken vase.

Laura Kasischke is author of nine novels and nine collections of poetry, including Space, In Chains, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is Theodore Roethke Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan.
Originally published:
April 1, 2020


10 Ways Ms., Sassy, and Jezebel Changed Your Life!

How contradiction drove fifty years of feminist media
Maggie Doherty

How Emily Wilson Reimagined Homer

Her boldly innovative translation of the Iliad is an epic for our time
Emily Greenwood

In the Shallows

Why do public intellectuals condescend to their readers?
Becca Rothfeld

You Might Also Like

A Doll’s House

Laura Kasischke


Styles of Radical Illness

Anne Boyer diagnoses the lies we still tell about cancer
Laura Kolbe

Double Major

Major Jackson


Sign up for The Yale Review newsletter and keep up with news, events, and more.