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​I wanted to do something with the Napo prompt which was to use a “found” conversation as a poetic entry point but my overheard conversations seemed dull, and then I got too tired and uninspired to undertake it.  I did indeed spend a few hours “deep cleaning” some file drawers.  This poem was what resulted and although it doesn’t feel especially poetic to me it’s what I got tonight.

Sorting mechanism

It’s been too long since I did this spring cleaning
digging deep into files filled with receipts,
old catalogues, warrantees long outdone by age,
twenty year tax forms, the house deed!

I filled the recycle bag in no time with the results
of my excavation. Four file drawers filled with the neat
remains of the passing of time.  Then I stumble —
a few folders dedicated to my children, each unique.

Report cards, pictures they drew, pictures of them
Cards from my parents, birthday greetings
Doctor’s reports, financial aid forms, more report cards
various and sundry left for safekeeping.                                                            I

The letters I used to write them, every day for awhile
“What did I appreciate about you to today” because
some days just wore me down to where the only thing
between me and “adios”  was whatever I could toss
into a list of gratitudes: “for doing your homework”
“for picking up your clothes”
“not arguing with your sister”
“telling a good joke”

I remember the hardness of those days
the incessant fantasy of running away.
I took whatever lifeline I could gather
wove it underneath them to make a stay.

Now I hear from them, or get a text
“Mom, I really appreciate how you raised me”
perhaps they memorized those gratitudes
turned them into a maternal guarantee.


Linda April 21