On Inventory

"Remember me, remember me, but ah!
Forget my fate..."
~ "Dido's Lament: When I Am Laid in Earth"


I look around and there's still so much I need
to put in garbage bags, sort for the thrift
shop, fold for another season beyond

this one. And at the tail end of summer,
one length of fence began to sag, as things
will do after many years, waterlogged.

I think about the times I feel like giving
up, giving in: just like the shore's ragged hem
to the sea's steady encroaching. But then I come

for instance upon a book of tickets or an old
silk dress, its print of ferns and split leaf
philodendra now muted green and yellow—

I think I wore it last walking around
Philadelphia in the heat, going from museum
to museum, then sitting under the shade

while someone snapped a picture. There
in the backdrop, a mural on a trattoria wall:
its giant scale making small impressions

of our figures. Years later, always
years later— wonder of wonders, this
register: the pulse that beats

its undertone of regret, meaning
there's something yet, apparently,
that it desires. And so on, down

the changing inventory of days:
we count and carry, buy or trade, set
aside what we imagine others might want

after we've passed on, or just gone past
the need for more possessions. Sometimes,
too, they've not even once been used.


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