Your Forgery Shop
You’ve opened a forgery shop
in Harvard Square. You offer
fake passports, green cards, birth
certificates, Rembrandt and Monet
paintings, Shakespeare manuscripts,
anything the cold heart desires.
I could order the lost poems
of Sappho, a codex of Homer,
a sketch by Michelangelo.
Your prices seem reasonable.
But I remember when you tried
to forge a marriage between us,
faking even the shyest gesture.
I wasn’t fooled. Who’d believe
that the quarto of Hamlet spat
from your four-dimensional printer
is authentic? Across the street
in the brick college buildings
scholars gnash and grind over texts
or peer into ancient drawings
to illuminate the world and self.
Meanwhile two thousand miles south,
at the notorious border,
gaunt refugees gather in hope
of green cards permitting them new
and almost survivable lives.
You can’t fake scholarly effort
or the grief of cultural shock.
Maybe I’ll buy something modest,
like a letter from Catullus
to one of his dissolute friends.
But I’m not sure I should encourage
such a wanton enterprise,
even if the light in your eye blinds
the most scrupulous curator
of genuine human debris.