Two Poems: A Collection of Trunks

A Collection of Trunks #1

It is your collection of trunks,
a lifetime of them, their age showing,
stacked in a back room, out of sight
most of the time.

Most of the time they are quiet.
Mere collections of words,
a mix of exuberance and darkness.
Postcards, love letters, and books of spells

that no longer hold sway. Now and again,
one will come alive again. You hear it rattling,
a fearsome noise, full of bluster and braddagio,
hungry for life and power, remember

what it once had. The sway. The power, the life.
That is when it is time. Time to enter the back room
and open the trunk and begin a new round of cleansing,
letting the beast into the light and allowing the sun

to expose the lies,
and burn the beast into flames,
a perfect light to throw out others
before they too wake in the night.

A Collection of Trunks #2

It is your collection of trunks,
a lifetime of them, their age showing,
stacked in a back room, out of sight,

Now and again you enter the room,
preferably when the sun outside is bright
and fills the room
through the two windows on either end.

Now and again you enter the room,
only when you are ready. Letters live there.
Pictures. Cards. Remembrances.

It is the emotions you are wary of.
It is only recently you have learned the art
of co-existence without slavery, only recently
you have come to a place where you can purge,

confident in which ones no longer serve you
and which do.

About this poem

In my bedroom is a small old trunk. It was my grandfather’s and he kept it in a back, attic sort of room upstairs in his house.

There is a family legend that my father used to tell me. Grandaddy would save things that were important to him. Love letters. Thank you notes. Small souvenirs. When something new came into his life, he would go upstairs and ceremoniously put it in his trunk and lock it. He was seen putting a note from a friend in there just a week or so before his death.

After his death, there was a lot of anticipation about what might be in that trunk. My dad ended up with it and he brought it home and opened it up. I remember hovering over his shoulder in anticipation.

It was empty.

As if he knew the end was coming, and what was meant to be private, he made sure stayed private. One of those little mysteries all families have.

I got the trunk and I have used it in a similar way, filling it with notes and cards and letters people have sent me over the years. If I ever need a reminder that I have been of value to people, that I have mattered, all I have to do is open my trunk and pull out a random card and it warms my heart.

It used to have love letters from my ex-wife in there. At one point, I took them out and let them go. They no longer rang true. I did not want the trunk to hold demons, only friendly ghosts. When I die, whoever follows will get a picture of me from people who have written to me over a lifetime. I don’t plan to purge it when I go. (My journals, on the other hand, will make a lovely bonfire.).

And that is the source of the poem this morning. I passed the trunk as I woke up and the poem started. After a few days of not writing whilst in the hospital, it was a good reboot.

I could not decide which poem I wanted to write. So I wrote both.

Be well. Savor your good memories. Burn the rest. Dancing is always done best by bonfire.


PS: The picture was taken at a flea market in Greenwich, NY.

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