The Burglars

It won’t be personal, though you will smell them for a week, their amphetamine whiteness
on everything. You were nothing to them. You were a kind of money. You were a mine or a
cave. You were in fact empty, a dispossession. Unguarded and perhaps even abandoned, it
might have seemed to them, when they pried open your window and slid through like minks.
The air in your room is silver, and dawn is just beginning to streak the bed pink and white.
How quiet the sheets are without you in them. And the room itself like a stage set from an
old Western. The burglars in their skinny jeans, alert as deer, are still a little high. The smell
of the drug is on their hands as they touch your clothes. In your underwear drawer, beneath
the cottons and the one fine piece of raw silk, the white boy with the tremor palms your
mother’s diamond pendant. The other one, in your closet, searches for the gold beneath the
coats. Outside the ponies rustle through the mint leaves. A little dog barks. Things are
disappearing, things that you will miss, other things that you will forget about. Your laptop
disappears. A beautiful rawhide briefcase. All of your luggage. When the burglars have
finished, they walk out casually through the front door, which they leave open behind them.
The door stands open all morning like a white bird flapping one wing. When you return you
will find, on the floor, a photograph under your heel. It is a photograph of yourself
at nineteen, your hair wild, the pupils of your eyes round as pennies. You’re lost. You’re
standing next to a man who does not love you, smiling at someone you’ve just betrayed.

Camille Norton’s book of poems, Corruption, was a National Poetry Series winner and was published by HarperCollins Perennial in 2005. Her work appeared in the The Best American Poetry 2010. A frequent collaborator with visual artists and composers, Norton is a Professor of English Literature at University of the Pacific and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of English at Harvard University in 2015 and 2016.