Death cleaning

Everywhere I look there’s so much accumulated life
around us: deeds and papers, hundreds of books;

shoes and sweaters, assorted pots and pans.
Too many coffee mugs, ceramic plates bought

because something in the swirled green glaze
spoke to that deep need for beauty besides

the thing’s functionality: and also the hunger
that never is appeased. After the popcorn

and chips are gone, only crumbs; but at the bottom
of the bowl, wreathed letters spelling “Fill Me”

— just as, no matter how the days swell, it seems
I’m always running out of time. How will I ever

finish reading all the stories, the poetry? I read
the first page in the store, fall in love, pay, bear

my small new treasure away. I touch the folded dress
worn once at a daughter’s wedding, and never again;

the soft woven wrap brought back from foreign travels
by a friend. I want to wind it around me and lie down

as if spent. But also, I want to be one among a crowd,
come to raise our arms and push paper lanterns with tiny

flames flickering in their hearts up toward the indigo
sky, as we release our breaths at the same time.

I still want to live as if every small thing mattered
all the time, even if I know nothing can be ours to keep.


In response to Via Negativa: Collector.

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