The Relic • Robert W. King

Today someone has come unbuttoned, I see
by my foot on the sidewalk, a small face,
eyes and a two-hole mouth set into stone.

When I pick it six feet up into the air
I discover its design, white ripples
with brown streaks, a crescent of black.

Now I have two problems, one to imagine
what elaboration this button matched
which I can’t. The second problem—what now?—

has three answers: put it down where it was,
or toss it secretly off, perhaps under
that bush where it might never be found,

or, and because I’ve thought this long about it,
this is what I do: pocket it myself,
promising never to let it fall away again.

It’s not what I have lost in my life
but today I take it gladly as if
something, finally, has been returned.


Robert King’s first book, Old Man Laughing (Ghost Road Press), was a finalist for the 2008 Colorado Book Award in Poetry and he recently won the Grayson Books Chapbook Competition with Rodin & Co. He lives in Greeley, Colorado.