Poem: The Cost of Memory

The Cost of Memory

There is a candle on the shelf,
pale yellow, made of honeycomb.
If you lean close, breathe it in,
you can smell the slight sweetness.

They don’t make candles like this any longer
except in fancy shops with fancy prices,
so high you are afraid to burn them, especially
since they burn quickly to a brown nub.

My great-grandparents made such candles
from hives at the edge of their oversized garden.
A yearly event, scraping the wax and honey.
Messy work, with beautiful results,

jars of amber. Wads of wax to melt into molds
that had been in the family for generations.
Slow work, quickly burned in the night.
We made a lot of them.

And though they had electricity,
they burned them, those pale yellow candles,
through the winter, a symbol
of what they could produce

without a modern world. Less a habit
than an act of defiance.

All that and more goes through your mind
in the antique shop. You check the tag on the candle.
Expensive. But then, perhaps all memories are expensive.
You buy the candle.

About this poem

Too much in this poem to make a list. It is the poster child for poetry never being about one thing. Enjoy. Embrace your memories.


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