The Dust Settles

Right now, if I go into the conference room,
afternoon doldrums motivating feet, I’ll see it.

Inside a shaft of light pouring through
high-rise windows, a portal illumined

all the way to the walnut table where papers
are stacked in temporary towering limbo.

Category “pending,” they await review by Legal,
and then, a continent away, the scrofulous children

of peasants will watch new transmission lines
hobble onto steel feet, begin to buzz with power.

But right now all that is projection, not equity,
to the immiscible dust that floats and hangs

inside or outside the great moneyed river that laps
Lower Manhattan and Lakeshore Drive, burns through

San Fran fog and makes a man stepping from a Pritzker Prize
architect’s upthrust four blocks over loosen his tie.

The dust is settling, scrawling its name on the documents.
The dust is coating every conversation in this building.

The dust is insinuating itself into urinals and onto lipstick
on TP and muffin crumbs and cups of coffee.

The dust is becoming http:// and www and #everything
as it dances over cubicles, anoints heads

and coats shoulders, and covers without aplomb
the steps and missteps of dinosaurs, gods, and men.

At the end of the day it walks out the door with me
and seeks my pillow, preparing to build dunes

in my dreams, just like it once did at Cheops, Pompeii,
as all of us climb high and higher, then tumble softly down.


Albert Haley is a graduate of Yale and the University of Houston’s creative writing program. A former winner of the Rattle Poetry Prize (2007), he is also the author of the novel Exotic and short story collection Home Ground. He lives in Abilene, Texas.

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