She’s shortening the hem of something,
or of everything – as wave shrinks shore.
She’d always called it simplifying,
this art of finding less in more and more.
These days, banal divestiture
elaborates on death’s striptease,
each hour whittled down before
it goes too far.
“I won’t need these,
At breakfast she plans dinner’s meal,
then calls leftover what’s still warm.
Eye on the wheel, she seems to feel
the rot of what remains outside the norm.
How quickly the neglected loses form
“– so please, take all this with you when you leave.”
Alone, there’s compost to perform,
to bundle, trundle through the garden, heave.
Documents she’d saved for years –
scythed senseless several winters past.
Goodwill and Hefty are her seers.
She’s worn a rutted path from hearth to trash.
Recycling’s bold enthusiast,
a color-coded calendar reminds her:
oversized, organic, newsprint, glass.
Each day’s specific class of loss defines her.
Once ordered, chaos can be boxed,
dispatched one tidy parcel at a time.
In her attic, lives are stacked like blocks
behind a door which hides nostalgia’s crime.
These days, weak legs decline to climb.
Yet mind invites a nudity that can cure –
disposes of detail, de-clutters, declines
through memory’s ever shrinking aperture.
How far this calm decomposition,
this casting off by cherished increments,
from youth’s first nihilist collision.
We reveled once in din and stench.
Such pestilent magnificence
enthralled us boys. For hours we would follow
the trash truck’s maw, obscene, immense –
to marvel at its power to crush and swallow.
This afternoon I called my brother.
One thing’s for sure—this is no place for weeping.
Not for the sons. Not for the mother.
I hear her now downstairs – she’s sweeping
to the rhythm of grim-reaping,
the sharp steel gyre’s grinding call.
Each dawn it wakes her from deep sleeping
to part drawn curtains –
“They took it all!”