How the old house silts up—
with records and tapes unplayed,
with poetry, yellowed, unread
and guitar strings broken and limp.
Faded hats from our salad days
match dresses too small at the waist.
We have saved too zealously:
too many ends of wool,
unattached buttons and zips.
Mementoes fade when bereft
of the men who brought them back
and letters from lovers we’ve lost
are nibbled by silverfish.
In the light of a later day
strangers may laugh at our photos,
the diary confessions we wrote.
Silt is leaning on every shelf,
piles up behind locked doors.
It’s waiting to burst from cupboards
and meet those others who’ll come
with their gaping garbage bags.
We’ve tried, and failed, to begin
but haven’t the heart for a cull:
one of us throws things out,
the other sneaks them back in—
the thought of a bonfire is worse.
Slowly our hoards disintegrate
to remnants of what has been.
We could slowly sink in the silt
that rises, dense and deep,
or suffocate under its weight,
heavy as grain in a bin.