Needs to use the line "Spoils of the Dead" -From the Robert Frost poem of the same name
We carry our baggage heaped on our backs,
ever heard in our heads, thrumming in our hearts.
We have it piled in dusty corners, musty closets or
prettily arranged in front rooms proclaiming
'this' belonged to my Mother or his,
to a grandparent or perhaps, as in my case,
to one with multiple greats attached.
What-ever-it-may-be may have value or not.
Monetarily perhaps and most certainly
a currency of the heart. We stretch connections,
an apron-string to heaven:it is a way of holding tight to that
which we can no longer touch. Because they are dead,
their belongings aren't spoiled; their memories do not
moulder away, do not decay if somehow they yet live.
We pass over the items that belonged to them
when having garage sales--hearts not able to bear
seeing their precious (or not) belongings pawed through,
bargained over or worse, ignored.
Guilt weighs in heavy on understanding
that some things meant more to them than to us:
Multiplied when realization strikes that progeny
easily discounts, hasn't room for or flat out
has no desire for something of Grandmother's,
or ours (now) for that matter. The black-walnut
bedroom set, carved with infinite love and pride
from hundred year old trees on the family farm,
for instance. No matter the workmanship, the time, the care.
No one wants a full size bed anymore. It is too old,
it is antique. It is an antique! No instant gratification in the
months of sanding, joinery, fitting each piece with craft, with skills
learned over a lifetime without electric saws, sanders and drills.
No matter it has stood the test of time, of generations of use.
It isn't new; it isn't our style, it isn't anything enough.
Perceptions surveyed from the mirror's back.
Stuck in a mindset long past when things were valued,
passed down from generation to generation, we
are surrounded by his father's turned lamps, my dad's carvings,
his mother's knickknacks, my grandmother's trinkets.
Living room furniture--a conglomeration our mothers' tastes--
thirties meet the sixties somehow works and there is nothing
wrong with any of it. It became our style.
Nine trunks in the basement. One which originally
was my grandmother's grandfather's will go to my daughter.
The others,( mine, his) are exploded scrapbooks: every
card Dad ever gave Mom. High school memories, prom photos,
dried flowers. Yearbooks, war medals, calling cards, his mother's
wedding gown with a seventeen inch waist! Blank faces don't comprehend--
this was history, ours and theirs. But they do not connect.
The cards/words/actions that meant so much to be cherished
for fifty something odd years deemed worthless
because the owner of the memory passes on. No.
It meant something to them; therefor, it does to us. But there are those
who can, happily, keep pure memory inside, prettily arranged
in the front room of their mind or in cobwebbed crease of cranium.
They need no stuff, nor baggage. Have no need to touch.
We sit, of an evening, holding a piece of some long gone day,
caressing, or perhaps appreciating the workmanship employed,
letting the stream of memory evoke tales, oft told stories, bygone gotchas
which, in turn, bring forth, subtly, the reasonings behind who and what we are.
They, perhaps, neither want nor need the tangible to make where they've been
come alive for others, more concerned, maybe with what lies in front.
Their rear-view mirror refracts memory; ours reflects the still touchable.
Either works for those it will. There is no one way. Still, for us,
it keeps memory or love active, a vital everyday part. It keeps
connections hooked, links secure. Blood to blood still surges;
what ran in them, runs in us. No matter it should anyway, there is fear,
perchance, that if every last piece of them is gone, then they too are--
totally gone, dead to us, beyond the grave, unreachable...lost.
In a world gone visual, the seeing is still necessary.
When we go on to join those long departed; if one can
talk over old times, we will know we went keeping their memories alive,
keeping them alive. We may well find that there are different things
to care about or find heaven's memories reach forward, not back.
When come the day when those having to take time
from their busy lives to deal with what we leave behind--
will they shake their heads, take a deep breath and burrow in
or shovel out the three or four generations worth
of love and moments, joy and tears? Will they choose
some small moment to take with them or shuffle off
a trunk full of their history? Will a grandchild play dress-up
in their great-grandmother's wedding gown? Will the weight
of generations avalanche down--will it be with joy or dread
they rummage through the spoils of the dead?