In Pieces

What value
has an ancient vase?
Japanese or Native American—
it doesn’t matter
which dynasty,
or what tribe—
the maker and admirers
are long dead
and not even their ghosts
attempt to quarrel
with our judgments.
And what if—
at the museum,
behind the glass case,
the balance is compromised
by a shaking of earth
or careless hand—
what then?
The pieces have broken
their promise to be whole
which breaks our commitment
to their worth
which is nothing at all
how we treat the pieces
of a lost child’s life—
every torn drawing preserved,
every clay animal precious
whether or not a leg is missing
or an ear chipped off—
and nothing in the world
will ever mean more.

DeMaris Gaunt

Vincent Van Gogh as a boy.

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