The Safecracker

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On nights when the moon seems impenetrable—
a locked porthole to space;
when the householder bars his windows 
and doors, and his dog lies until dawn,
one jeweled eye open; when the maiden sleeps 
with her rosy knees sealed tightly together, 
on such nights the safecracker sets to work. 
Axe . . . Chisel . . . Nitroglycerin . . .
Within the vault lie forty thousand 
tons of gold; the heaped up spoils 
of Ali Baba's cave; the secrets of the molecule. 
He sands his fingertips
to feel the subtle vibrations
of wheel lining up, just so, with wheel. 
His toolmarks are his fingerprints. 
And now a crack appears on the side 
of the egg, a single fault line,
and within: the golden yolk just waiting.
A kind of wind . . . a door flies open . . . a glitter 
of forsythia forced out of the branch. 
With smoothest fingertips you touch 
the locked cage of my ribs . . . just so. 
My knees fall open. And Cleopatra smiles, 
whose own Egyptians first invented the lock.

© Linda Pastan