The Secret Lives of Objects
My friend, the engineer, sees hurt machines—
a car grinding its gears, a discarded vise—
and aches. He knows what they know.
The rusted fan, the flea-market eggbeater
share all innocent objects' silence. They speak,
are heard, only through us; need us
like we needed the gods, the animating breath
of their care and caprice. The burnishing
or breaking of their use. Objects, my friend says,
they long for patina, and I think of my shelf at home,
the levels and files, my grandfather's folding ruler
and the plumb bob in the window, swaying
above the jamb. We look and say file or flashlight,
wooden spoon or CPU. We explain them,
and they look to us, mute, fallible—
as if they were looking for something simple.
As if what they were looking for
never tarnished, never fell.