I bought an antique sieve of hammered tin
For its decorative holes
Patterned like a flower, or a star exploding
At one of the poles.
I think of all it has sifted: flour and sugar,
Dust and light,
What must be ground so fine, so fine! to pass through –
Light and time it has sifted, like a metal welkin
Of punctual stars,
The cold hieroglyphs of the constellations,
The raised scars
On one side of the thin disk, stigmata
Nubby as braille.
I hang it up like an arrow-pierced shield
In the hall, on a nail.
Or rather it is a deep tambourine
That shaken makes no
Music, but sifts the silence down like powdered
Sugar, like snow.
Even now something is falling, falling, dust
And Time, infinitive,
Through perforations that ought to sound like ‘grieve’
But rhyme with ‘give’.