After We're Gone
When we moved into the farm,
the basement was full of preserves stewing in dusty canning jars in the basement.
They whispered her name in the darkness
but would never touch our lips,
and yet it took years for us to throw them away.
They sat in rows like unseen gravestones to her memories
and the sweetness of her last summer,
turned to acidic poison,
the strawberries contained had long since forgotten their own name,
their past life in the sun.
After our last breath
We become the things
those who love us can not throw away,
the orange purse hanging in the hallway closet,
the worn leather shoes beside the bed,
the collections of telephone transformers, stamps, silver spoons, and delicate animal skulls.
We will all become the drawer of photos
where faces who lost their names long ago patiently wait for time to reverse,
hoping someone will breathe life into history buried in too many days past.
I will be the dented pewter sugar bowl
the list of novel ideas in the drawer beneath my bed,
a pair of barn boots by the door,
a red string from Cambodia,
the notes you wrote me that I can not bear to throw away
and the journals I have tried to rid myself of in a million bonfires,
only to pack them again in dusty milk crates in the garage.
I hope that when the final wave of my life reaches the shore,
I will not leave too much of a burden of things in my wake.
I am ruthless with what I throw away,
hope that somewhere on the clean slate where my life once danced
I’ll leave bootprints in spring mud,
Or perhaps I will become more of a whisper than an image
a flurry of energy like dust suspended in a summer barn --
that it will bring an unexplained rush of movement to your heart.