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The Antiquary

Matthew Olzmann

There's a storefront on the west side of town
where a thin man with a monocle and mustache
stacks and cleans discarded watches and clocks.
He finds them in abandoned buildings after dark,
hauls them home in grocery carts.
The neighborhood kids think he's a ghost,
but the old folks claim that's just what he collects:
Moments. Each, a relic of something shattered,
a world that stopped. Here, a father clutches
his chest and falls in the park as the pigeons scatter.
Here, a woman stands at the altar—
that room is empty, that room now dark.
If there's a moment you wish you could return,
that’s all he wants to buy.
See the hour and minute hands sorted
like silverware across the counter,
pendulums hanging like fish from the ceiling,
buckets of sand—a miner’s haul—everything
we’ve ever known, beneath the windows.

Matthew Olzmann

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Author Discusses Poems