Poem: A Few Things In the Back Barn

A Few Things in the Back Barn

They were there when you bought the house.
A few things in the back barn.
An old washtub, two sinks, the porcelain chipped
but otherwise, perfectly useable,
or at least that is what you tell yourself, you
who are loathe to let things go.

There is a plant on a barrel. You left it there
when you moved in. Sure it would die of neglect,
and yet here it is,
after years of winter death and resurrections,
greener, broader than when you arrived.
Some things thrive on neglect.

A cafe table, neatly folded and left.
There so long the fiberboard top is mildewed,
Your finger would go through it with the slightest touch.
It really should be taken to the dump and disposed of,
no less rotten, just out of sight.

Two headboards. Metal of some sort, so pitted
it is hard to tell what. Still sturdy though.
and afternoon with a steel brush would bring them alive,
even now. But you have no rooms for them.

Some day perhaps, you will clear this section of the barn.
But you do not need this space yet
and it pleases you some how to have traces
of the ones who have gone before you hanging around
like ghosts. Like memories you no longer need,
but leave. Benevolent at best, clutter at their worst.

You smile as you pass them.
You have assigned stories to each of them
and made them neighbors,
these few things in the back barn.

About this poem

My last house in Virginia was full of junk, broken furniture, old tools. We inherited the stuff when we moved in. We left it when we moved out.

We all carry stuff in our head. Memories good and bad. Some do us harm. Some though, are more benevolent, giving us no reason to purge them, even if there is no reason to keep them. It happens in relationships too.

Oh, and about stuff in a back barn. In the picture’s case, at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s elegant home in Mass.

None of this has anything to do with what I thought I was writing about this morning.


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