Ladies’ Room, National Archives
as if part of history
too, the wooden
toilets still have
pull chains, marble

floors; you can see
where the traffic’s
been by the way the
shiny black veins

are dull. It’s hard
for more than two to
wait in the narrow
space, air thin as

fingernails on a
mummy. If there were
ghosts of any dead
presidents’ wives,

they’d pick this bath-
room, I imagine: shadowy,
genteel. Echoes of well-
dressed women laughing.

Now hardly anyone at
the noon film isn’t
old, wearing brown
or rose madder, slightly

frayed like the room.
Everything in this
light is muted, flung
into the past, so when

you take the fifth-floor
elevator down to exit
on Constitution or
Pennsylvania Ave., the
bright light stings.