Poems for Hoarders: The Man Explains His Souvenirs by Charles Rafferty

Photo of large dust bunnies being fed a carrot.


I'm still cleaning out the hoard in my art studio. It's going well. Things are getting tidier. As long as you don't count the giant pile that's accumulated on the landing just outside the studio door. Actually, the art studio has turned into an office. And the landing will become the art studio. No regrets. I worked one day with my newly cleaned desk in front of the window and and I'm never going back to the old way.

It's sometimes tough to know what to do with the treasures I uncover as I sort through these piles. What am I supposed to do with all the papers my mother saved? The account books from my great-grandmother's farm? The player-piano scrolls in their sagging, broken box? Tough questions since I don't have children. If you have children you can always save them as part of the "family history" and then eventually dump them on said progeny. Woe is me.

Anyway, long story short, I found this poem by Charles Rafferty in my hoard. Apparently, I clipped it from the January 17, 2011 issue of The New Yorker so that it could sit in a box on my desk for close to three years before eventually winding up on this aromatherapy mood sprays blog. Where it now lands because it is actually just so perfect for what I'm doing right now, on August 26, 2013. Read it out loud. With poetry, that's the best way.

What does this poem have to do with aromatherapy? A big fat NOTHING. Unless you consider that my anti-Apathy mood spray has been super helpful this week for getting things done. And beyond the mood-enhancing essential oils, the mist kinda dampens down the dust bunnies. But I digress:



by Charles Rafferty


Twenty years ago, the skeleton

of a wild pig gleamed among violets

while the leaf rot around it

grew hot with spring. I slipped

the molar out of its grin like an oiled key

and took it home, leaving the boar

to reassemble, if it ever did,

at a gap-toothed resurrection. I hold it up

to show my daughters. They are less

impressed each year. I have antlers

and trilobites and chips of pretty bedrock

from all the places where the sun came up

to burn me awake with beauty--even

a turtle shell we used as an ashtray

in that first apartment, on the bank

of a creek that flooded every March

and took our trash to sea. All of it

sleeps in a basement box--a kind of coffin

for my former life, but also a proof

that I stooped to the world,

that I kept what came my way.


--Charles Rafferty


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