Portage

What do you know
of our lives before this land?
For instance: here are
seventeen years, at least five
moves, boxes of belongings
and books. There were always books
and photographs we could not give up,
donate, throw away. Many printed on thin
paper, poor quality covers that split
at the seams a long time ago;
smell of moth wings crumbled
to a smudge in the middle.
Notebooks with recipes in an old-
fashioned hand. Camisoles sewn by hand,
worn by each child in turn. Small lace
with light brown tea-stains.
But they were worth more
than the aftermath of the first
bankruptcy, the garnishment of wages.
How many bricks in them boxes, lady?
asked one of the Two Men and a Truck team,
heaving them up to the second floor.
We took them out and put them on shelves,
folded them into drawers.
We taped up the windows with plastic sheets
those winters when icy winds knifed their way
in, bent on finding those places where we
kept what we had left of our original hearts.

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