Downsizing by Alan Walowitz


No tears when the stately old divan
departed. Only when the new owner
sawed off its middle leg to get through
the door, did it give my mother pause.
Meanwhile her three remaining pals
dutifully chose one shmata each
they’ll surely never wear themselves,
but come Christmas might offer the help.
Finally a few items had to be trashed
—moldy Good Housekeepings: recipes
she couldn’t bear to part with,
but never good enough to make;
tchotchkes varie: the alligator nut-cracker
from the Everglades, Baby Big Ben
that once played God Save the Queen,
olive oil we pressed ourselves in Spain,
surely rancid now,—then we thought we were done.
Till we looked at the glacier
that had formed in the freezer:
Interred there like a twelfth century mountaineer
hiding lost truths, were meals from lifetimes ago:
a meatloaf from the 90s buried behind
more recent triumphs; half pints of milk
smuggled from the Senior Center in case of natural disaster.
And this, a shriveled piece of wedding cake.
Ma, that was to be eaten
your first anniversary, for luck.
She pauses, thinks about her husband
long dead, longer mourned and says,
Maybe that’s why things didn’t work out
and drops it in the trash.

by Alan Walowitz

Editor’s Note: Some poems are meant to convey the human condition. This one lists the detritus and treasure of a life, with a kicker of a closing.


4 responses to “Downsizing by Alan Walowitz”

  1. Risa Denenberg Avatar

    That’s a doozy of a poem! Enjoyed!

    1. ajwal328 Avatar

      Thanks so much, Risa.

  2. triciaknoll Avatar

    I suspect each thing was more treasure than detritus in her eyes… I saw the title and ran to the poem because I suppose I should be downsizing now and wanted to see what you had to say… And the best I’ve done so far is adopting a tiny little 12 pound young dog to be here when my older big dog goes inevitably.

    1. ajwal328 Avatar

      Tricia, it sounds like that’s a start, although adopting a new dog as a replacement has to have another name–maybe “Equalizing.” Thanks for reading. Mom was not a hoarder, but a keeper. Me, too! The thought of moving or downsizing makes me shiver.

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