What Does a Life Leave Behind?

What does a life leave behind?

A shelf of books, a drawer of socks,
a robe never worn and given away
unwashed dishes left for a ‘later’ never-come
and bills, always bills—for pills, for palls,
for flowers and for a last ditch’s efforts.

The grander the exit, the greater the detritus:
crosses taped on posts, withered in the wind
along a lonely roadside stretch untraveled;
plaques, placards, plazas,
all bearing the names of the dead,
marking out hallowed ground
on which we the living do carefully trod.

And by on by, the world will fill up
with remembrances of loss
and every day will be red-letter.
The world is full, already, of losses forgotten
for every spot of soil has been blood-stained
since that day when Abel fell.

But lives do not reside in glass and stone,
but rather in laughter, and tears,
and the bright memories of mornings spent together
going over the books we’d read. Life dwells
in bread broken and shared
in lessons learned and hearts warmed.

So treasure these things that are living,
living on in defiance of death.
Live out the remembrances of the beloved dead–
and then the whole world will be a monument.

To the memory of my friend Janette Hearne, 1934-2018.

By Allison R. Shely, 7-11 September 2018.

 

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