Who will know the value of the Dewey Thompson footstool
Bought in Appalachian coal country?
Five hard-earned singles eased from the back pocket of tight jeans.
For sure my mother’s rings will be labeled soon for nieces,
But what of the Melmac platter, the palest green that favors no décor, scratched,
Though I remember it holding only bread for dinners?
The scalloped plate is new but I recall my Aunt Ruth’s deviled eggs
Each time I make my own.
It will go naked, without memories or recipe.
Its place a thrift shop shelf if lucky,
The local landfill if not.
Keep only what gives you joy, I hear.
If so, what bears the tossing out?
Photos of a younger self,
The teddy bear from an old lover turned new suitor,
Thought better of after the weekend was over.
The phone that doesn’t work but has a parent’s final voicemail message.
“It’s just your mother. It’s Friday afternoon.”
Author’s Comment: Several things inspired this piece, including conversations about building more bookshelves. I keep hearing about the need to “declutter,” and how younger generations do not want their elders’ “stuff.” Friends are downsizing. I cherish the things that surround me and each item is a part of the story of my life. I have no idea how to choose, how to part with any of it. Mostly, I simply do not want to. The price of indecision, however, is that when I am gone, someone else will cart it all away with no love for nor understanding of any of it.
Pleasant and poignant. Please do put me on the subscription list, if there is such a thing. Do you need a donation?
Thanks to all for the comments about your experience of reading this poem.
This is perfect. I am an artist which may or may not be an excuse for all the possessions I have acquired over my 74 years. and most especially my books which is why the title caught me. I do worry about my children having to deal with all the stuff I have accumulated ..only some of it pertaining to them or their lives but when I expressed this to my best friend she said she had no such qualms because she took care of them and their junk for many years and when she was gone they could damn well take care of hers.
Thank you Persimmon Tree. This was what so many of us think about and now expressed for all to see and contemplate.
Thank you. The books symbolize it all, do they not?
Oh, how you summed up my feelings, as I have been “down-sizing” my possessions. I admit mortality and think of what I have the right to continue to cling to and what will be a burden to “get rid of” for my children. I could hear a woman’s soft voice as I read the poem. Almost brought tears to my eyes. Wonderful!
Just beautiful! Very moving!
Also, I forgot to say, the title is perfect.
The final words are perfect. Who does not have something like that? Or wish they did? And that’s the way motehrs of their generation talked – “It’s just your mother.”
thank you for writing this, and to Persimmon Tree for making it so that we know you wrote it. more, more!
This is beautiful!