Cleaning House

by Britton Gildersleeve


I am saying goodbye to my life.
Throwing away books, teapots, pens.
Saying farewell to my mother’s passport
my father’s books. Offering to strangers
crystal plates and funerary urns.

There is comfort in discarding.
A kind of grace blooms in the space
where leather bindings once exhaled
dust, redolent of stories whispered
late into the night. Pieces gone missing.

They’re just things, I would try to soothe
my mother, as she mourned a crack, a loss
a move where boxes never arrived.
Just things. And now I ask my memories
to leave what houses them, things.

In the belly of a teapot is a Christmas tree.
Two small boys circle it, then grow into men.
Pressed between book pages, transparent flowers
plucked from a childhood no one else remembers
turn to dust. Most of it is dust.

Farewell, I tell the cast-iron skillet. Find
another young wife, teach her chicken and olives.
Until only the hearts of things remain: pictures
journals        spoons with a young girl’s name engraved.
The things that almost speak. Don’t give me away.

Originally published in This Land, Vol. 5, Issue 13, July 1, 2014.