What to Save by MJ Werthman White

What to Save

Once you start you won’t be able to stop; there’s no room anyway
for baby pictures, grandmother’s quilt, for the novel
you never got around to finishing; let them go.

Let smoke, water, and mold have at them; finally you will understand
ephemeral. People? Animals? Start with the irksome,
the difficult. Start with yourself, your ex,

include his spooky blue-eyed Persian cat, the one who hisses at you.
Drive. Away. Don’t look back; keep going. Refugee
enters your vocabulary. The sky burns orange

in your rearview mirror and rising water covers the hubcaps,
while a wind fells giant trees in your path like
the moving hand of God.

by MJ Werthman White

Editor’s Note: This poem’s plethora of punctuation serves as a metaphorical wall between the “irksome” past and the future that could hold freedom, if only the reader listens to the speaker’s hard-won advice.

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