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.