I think as I pick it up
in the desert,

a rib
with the sharpened edge
of a knife.

Not a smidgeon of flesh
or meat stuck to it,
just the smooth,

wind-polished bone

pure as a chip of ice
melting to nothing
in this century—

slender talisman.

Shakespeare, what stage
of animal or human
is this relic, whose skull
has been dragged away,

whose heartbeat is quiet,
whose ghost
is vanished?

Empty of pomp
and circumstance,
it signifies something.