There are closets and cupboards, storerooms and glass cases, where one keeps one’s relics, the things that tie one to yesterday. They may sometimes have an intrinsic value of their own, sometimes, divorced from their surroundings, they may seem to be pieces of junk. One forgets they have a history, were created, were loved, dusted, polished, taken care of. They are what links us to our past. And are, therefore, worth keeping.
Every so often one can’t help wondering why one is still around, for we have accomplished whatever we were meant to. Or at least so it appears. Our lives are now turned inwards as we head towards the closing of a journey that, in my case, began over 90 years ago. I read what others in a similar point in their lives have written – Penelope Lively, Clive James, Diana Athill. They know where they are headed but it is the now that continues to matter, writing, working with ideas, communication.
Several years ago when the time had come for me to move from the country to town, to be where my children could check up on me more easily, I wrote a poem. It wasn’t a bad poem so let me read it to you, for it is just as valid now as it was then.
I wander through the rooms
as if I were a ghost
choosing this and that.
What to take, what to leave
what I will need, what holds meaning.
But to me alone
and not to those who follow.
A book – read yesterday
to read perhaps tomorrow.
A book – the small child kept throughout the years
and that I am loath to part with.
A book by an unforgotten love.
How difficult to live in the now
knowing that tomorrow none of this will matter.
Perhaps I can store what I hold dear
in the closet of forgotten things
hoping that someone sometime will open the cupboard
I hope that you and I will also be remembered and are worth keeping even though we have reached the point where we can always count on a seat on a bus in deference to our white hair and wrinkles.
2 thoughts on “Worth Keeping”
I have read this tonight with great interest. It’s a privilege to read these lines – I can follow in the footsteps of your thought from one line to the next. They ring true. Among others, I especially relish:
… what holds meaning.
But to me alone
and not to those who follow. …
And the concluding lines – I love the thought they contain too. Thank you for sharing this poem. I hope it has other readers as it conveys something rather special.
All the best,
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Dearest Erika, the best Writing Partner anyone could have,
I see that I recently wrote you about a particularly haunting poem of yours, and as luck would have it, it has reappeared in a new form. Here’s my original request to you from September 18:
Salve! I have been trying to find one of my favorite pieces of yours—the one about “the closet of forgotten things”—il dimenticatoio—an Italian word that I had never heard before, but that now I’ll never forget. How did I ever live without it?
I had thought that “The Closet of Forgotten Things” was the inaugural piece for the whole blog, but now I can’t find it.
Something tells me that your well-organized self will be able to help. * Flash forward a few weeks to October 5— Could it have been serendipity that made this very poem return just when I was needing to see and hear it? I feel I can always “hear” your written voice, but to hear your recording adds a whole new dimension. I see that the poem is now titled “Moving 2018” from the section “Worth Keeping.”
In any case, I am grateful. Worth keeping, indeed! Even though up to this point in life, for better or worse, I forget very little, you have helped me understand how priceless it is to always have at the ready a dimenticatoio.