The Estate

Last night
we smelled of old mustiness,
You wearing the old man’s
straw hat,
its rim the color of
eighty-year-old wheat,

and I,
in the wife’s bustier,
its whalebone trapped
in pink-pearl shadow,
its delicate grasp pressing
V’s across my back.

Last night,
after sorting three full hours,
we stopped
to glance at all
that had been trashed:

dark-veined china,
books of gold edge,
depression long-johns cowering
behind men’s hats.

Eighty years of life
heaps high
within a dumpster.

As dusk dipped pale fingers
down through the alley,
we reeled like children
with our find.
Filling the trunk up to the
top,
we headed back.

Later, in our own home,
boxes smelled of thick, prewar
cardboard.
The dresses took on form
and swirled in the dance
that only ghosts know.

You put on the old man’s hat,
like a carnival barker
straight off the boat.

I hooked the eyes
of a young woman’s stays,
the frantic swoon
of the flesh held back;

And we made love.

Smelling of mustiness.
Smelling of strangers.
Smelling of decades perspiring
till dawn.

The ancient scent
all lovers know.