Keyring

By Maura Stanton

Featured Art: And I Saw an Angel Come Down from Heaven, Having the Key of the Bottomless Pit and a Great Chain in His Hand, plate 8 of 12 by Odilon Redon

The keys that disappeared opened what locks?
Upturning every drawer in my old desk,

crawling about the floor with a flashlight,
searching the front walk and the ruined garden,

retracing my steps, retracing my thoughts,
I understand I’ve lost more keys than just

the useful ones that opened my front door.
I’ve lost a set of phantom keys to things

I meant to keep, return to at my leisure.
A demon out of the void snatched them up

so now I’ll never open my lost diary,
or turn the tumbler in my London flat

with a practiced flick, a lock I couldn’t work
without help from the bear-like landlord.

“It’s a Yale lock!” he’d roar. Wasn’t I a Yank?
And now they’ve all vanished, keys to padlocks

clamped on lockers, keys to rusted stick-shifts,
answer keys to the questions I got wrong,

keys to smoky rooms of sex and wine,
keys to old friends’ doors that shall never

open again, and the spare set of keys
to my mother’s house in another state,

empty now except for the pacing cat
waiting for paramedics to bring her back.


Maura Stanton’s work has appeared recently in Ecotone, The Antioch Review, The New England Review, River Styx, Bateau, Plume, and Poetry East. Immortal Sofa, her sixth book of poetry, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2008.

Piece originally published in NOR 13.

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