Yard Sale

Under the stupefying sun
my family’s belongings lie on the lawn
or heaped on borrowed card tables
in the gloom of the garage. Platters,
frying pans, our dead dog’s
dish, box upon box of sheet music,
a wad of my father’s pure linen
hand-rolled handkerchiefs, and his books
on the subsistence farm, a dream
for which his constitution ill suited him.

My niece dips seashells
in a glass of Coke. Sand streaks giddily
between bubbles to the bottom. Brown runnels
seem to scar her arm. “Do something silly!”
she begs her aunt. Listless,
I put a lampshade on my head.
Not good enough.
the motions of other women
who have lived in this house.
And when I find a long gray hair
floating in the pail,
I feel my life added to theirs.

:: Jane Kenyon, From Room to Room (1978)

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