Vestige

I wanted to share a poem with you all that I wrote for the Clothesline Musings exhibit on display now at the Cary Arts Center. Hope you enjoy! 

Listen here:

 

Vestige

 

She slips an aged brooch into my palm and smiles.

No words, but I can read the meaning in the crackles of skin

around her brown lips saying, take this,

this artifact of my touch, this proof of love,

string it in your archives like a light sheet of fabric.

Touch it as it has touched me.

 

I say “tell me”—about the times she wore it to family dinners

and funerals, across town to see the dearest of friends

or sickest of neighbors. Decades after decades after decades…

I swear not to let each turn of the clock hand pass empty-handed.

This time here—this effort it takes to sit presently

in the other’s presence after the length of a day—

Is rarer than hope’s diamond.

She tells me how she made it through her battles

how she has managed to barter with God for yet another year

how much she is thankful for and alllllll that she regrets.

We pause.

Wait for the heaviness to lift, wait to be unhung

unhinged

worn again.

 

When my memory ages

like a leaning Sycamore losing branches

it may take longer to recall the echoes in your voice

or this golden brooch we have worn, handled,

share.  Palm these stones and stories begin to speak—

an oral history that has fallen out of commission,

just some old show of hands to fall back to at the poor folks

when nothing that is “better” is working.

But unlike the good ol’ days everything is subject to malfunction:

a hack

a blip

an outage.

Yet this ornament spans years; these hands, opening the latch,

once looped shirts and Easter dresses between wooden pegs

under a kinder sun. And I

sitting in your chair

hang on:

to the pursing of the lips bringing forth word

and the joining of our fingers on this physicality of space,

artifact of love, evidence of time.