Still, every once in a while, a poem or two will come out of nowhere even when I’m drowning in fiction. I highly recommend Beth Kephart’s Tell the Truth. Make it Matter: a memoir writing workbook.
If this jewelry box could talk…
I’m older than anyone left living in the family,
yet I’ve seen less of your world
then these rings you never wear,
and the broken chains you’ll never fix.
I am stained with nail polish remover and hot tears.
I thought you’d paint over me one day.
Then you realized Mom would have killed you
for altering my chipped, distressed bones.
Locket-sized photos of people you barely knew,
broken broaches and chokers, marbles, Italian lira,
Mom’s chunky necklaces you can’t bring yourself
to touch – nevermind wear.
This is what you’ve held hostage inside of me
all these years, and when you’re gone
they’ll be no one left to take me to a new home.
So before I find myself in a rummage sale
tape a note to me that says, “I mattered once”.
A note from the bedroom door…
I’m tired of watching you scroll on your phone
until you fall asleep and the damn thing hits the floor,
exhausted listening to you bawling
until that one blocked sinus in your conscience clears.
I’m open when I should be closed.
I’m closed, and stay closed, when the breeze
vies for a chance to cool the sweat on your neck.
Stop hanging things on me as if you’ll never need me to close.
I am worth more than the cheap, gray paint you dressed me in.
I am the first thing that stands against the world for you,
so use me like you use this pen –
urgently, with a strong grip and without reason.
You forgot I was there, didn’t you? The key fob to what was your mother’s car. It’s funny what you forget once it falls to the bottom of the fifth purse you’ve used this month. Remember when the dog chewed on the corner of me? Mom never scolded the dog since the fob still worked – starting the engine, locking the doors, creating the illusion of safety with the panic button. That’s just the kind of person she was – forgiving, as long as she and everyone she loved appeared safe, alive, and free to move forward.