AT THIS TIME, a poem by Vincent Spina

Vincent Spina, friend, retired Associate Professor and poet, gave his friends this poem today along with permission to post it here.

I offer it as balm to all who face memories of departed loved ones and fading dreams while you tackle the dispersal of mountains of stuff.  At the end of this post I will share some of what I wrote in response.

AT THIS TIME — by Vincent Spina

News has reached us, Ladies and Gentlemen
—midnight travelers and uneasy risers, sus-
pended between moments of sleep and waking—
and it is our pleasure to bring mind-scraps

of old home-sites, dimly remembered and all
those who shared with you (be they friends or family,
living or dead) so that you may sing a song
or two, toast a home-run or Hail Mary pass,

recall past loves that may or never have been,
moves to up-and-coming apartments, home-
comings, promotions, and ideas never
thought before, as if time had been sloughed off

like the skin of a tiny green lizard, red
dewlap flapping like a flag, and all that
remains of you, as if stored in a chest of
open drawers that now appears before you

with no need to stress recollection, for
the chest is soon recognized and invites
you to wander through all its detritus
—the used and unused spools of colored threads,

rubber bands rolled in tidy balls, paper clips
…and old hunting knife…scraps of letters in
a language not used anymore, some not sent
or if received, best left unread, and a scent

of lavender and old clothe as if all
had been saved by an old woman, left
stranded in a new land, homesick for what
may never have been—and now this very search

—jewel in itself—the finding or never
finding becomes all one: a magic carpet
of vital clues as to where you are and
who you are…and the moment suspends you

as if swimming in a cradle of tides,
head down on the left stroke, lifted to breathe
on the right stroke, when an unforeseen wave
catches you hard in the face, yet you

survive for now, revive your breathing
and the chest of drawers and its contents
fades and your mind, though not fully awake,
digs deeply into itself, finds its bedrock

of illusions at this insult of morning,
discards the threads, the clips and rubber bands
—dust puffs of old joys and regrets.

Then silence.
And the waves breaking on another beach.

“Dear Vince,
I had trouble reading your poem because the images in my mind got so loud and strong they thundered over your rhythmic words.
I have been digging through and sorting out stored material minutiae, the residue of my husband’s thirty-seven year first marriage which were crammed into storage while the loss of his wife was too painful to face.
In this poem, you have captured the sweetness, the confusion, the grief, the love, the very difficult dawning realization of the illusiveness of permanence…”

Meanwhile folks, if this poem touches you as much as it touched me, you may also be interested in Vincent’s book of poetry,  Dialogue, available through Amazon:


Author: American Declutterer

I've had three careers, moved among thirteen states, and cleared four houses after loved ones moved on. Sometimes you just have to look at all the stuff and laugh. Then get back to discarding.

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