Keepsakes

Photo by Ali Arapou011flu on Pexels.com

When I wrote this poem, I had just moved and was in the process of sorting through things. I began to think about the things we hold onto and the things we keep. I am often told in therapy sessions of stories of loss about objects that people keep to keep themselves connected to things. I, myself, have several of these objects in my own home. As I sorted through things, I began to notice how objects that once held such a vital place in my world (things I thought I would never give up) had lost their allure. I had detached the object from it’s meaning and without the energy of that person or the memory of that time being so strong, the object itself (which was quite a powerful thing at one point) was just a thing. I began to think about writing and how as writer’s we hold a lot of our ‘keepsakes’ in our work. Images, words spoken to us, thoughts, they are all these assembled in our poems. There are certain poems that I once felt very. personally close to and now detached from the feeling or object, I have to find a new way of appreciating that piece. It either stands up as something I feel maybe someone else can get something out of or I feel it is well written enough that this is enough to ‘keep it.’ It’s very hard for me to throw out any writing because I always feel a word, a phrase might find a place someday in something else, even if what was originally written for no longer stands up or I feel too distanced from it. During the time that I was unpacking, I began unpacking this idea of images that someone might hold onto. The result is this poem.

Keepsakes

The wind that makes the waves and shakes the corn stalks,

courts the poet and all that know of displacement. It leaves

syllables behind. I’ve been scouring the land for a cosmic heartbeat

even Poe’s cops could not hear. I collected this image

where you take my face in your hands and say,

“It’s ok. We all live in places we don’t really own.’

I swim under stars cut to fit the garment of the galaxy

and hurt so much I’ve become fearless enough to say Amen.

My brain is a devout. Stigmata of thought bleeds.

I want to rewrite so many things and leave myself

out. I want people to know they will feel safe

in the dark again. I’ve been holding onto 

conversations had down by the Beachwalk,

ones where we need a bottle of wine for hard questions.

The questions that feel like a long winded nights,

where we all wonder if the sun is still alive. I’ve been

Looking for anything that feels like a pulse, the woman

who unwrapped the box of chocolates and took one out

placing it like communion on her elderly mother’s tongue. I kept

the poet I saw when I ran into a bookstore in a thunderstorm,

who clearly the universe conspired with something holy

to give one person such rhythm and such a fertile mind.

I felt like she was America’s breadbasket of words. I kept

the moon and the man whistling in a black dinner jacket

and small gestures of affection that

waited quietly in homes

placed out of love 

like hotel pillow mints.

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