Monday Poem: Restricted Fragile Materials


It should be easy, I tell my son,
to dispose of the possessions kept
in these rooms.

I’ve left some things on a shelf for him, see?
These coupons might still be valid,
the vinegar will keep forever.

I’ve always liked the idea of order.
I’ve always liked the idea of the sofa at West Elm
but never did commit.

If  I could, I’d just lie here
taking measurements,
leaving ghostlier and ghostlier

impressions until thinking ends
and the lights go out.
Let my memory-depleted memory

preserve all this joy:
restricted fragile materials.
Who can stop me?

It’s not illegal to want to hold on.
To get to my archives,
my son will have to put his ear to the ground,

listen for a quiet scream.
And beneath that, like groundwater,
the endless chatter

of praise and lament.
How will I tell him the river I
feared to drink from

has come to drink from me?
May he, too, have fair winds
and following seas.

By Catherine Barnett
Source: Poetry (May 2024)