She was a custodian at the museum
where I was a guard. After she quit, she told me
her favorite piece had been an ivory statuette
of an old Japanese man feeding some ducklings.
The man was crouched down beside a bowl of feed.
He had a kindly smile on his face
and an enormous crack bisecting his skull.
She would ask about him from time to time
and when I told her they'd put him in storage
she couldn't believe they'd do such a thing.
I didn't see the piece for over a decade
until this afternoon, when during a patrol
I came across it on a shelf in back of the vault.
The craftsmanship and attention to detail
weren't as impressive as I remembered,
but it was good to see the old man there,
and I said hello from her, though it's been nine years
since she too disappeared, devoured by her own grief,
Maybe someday I will come across her again,
a pale figure in some dark catacomb somewhere,
smiling that gentle smile of hers, waiting.