Back on its tarnished hinges
The gate of memory swings.
My soul wanders into the garden
And stubs my toes on things.
Stooped, I inspect an old nightmare.
Why did it once seem profound?
It's detritus from drug-addled college.
Who left this lying around?
Why do we save the tripe and debris?
Why not just laughter and bon ami?
The puddles of tears, the sweaty sheen of fears
Mar the landscapes of our memory.
Mental frost rots treasures on the vine;
Embarrassment over enlightenment burns;
A carefully tended rose withers on the stem;
Crabgrass grows over tender ferns.
We feed our blossoms wholesome water
And showers of laughter every night
But the sad truth of the garden is
Memory's buds flower stronger with fright.
Still this is an Eden of blossoms and surprises.
Still this place is precious and pure.
Pure what, I don't know, maybe pure clutter,
Or purely accident. The past is unsure.
I swear I'll clean up the back yard
Some day when there's not so much rain
I'll weed out my memory's begonias
And plant fresh roses again.
For now I shut the gate of the garden
And turn my back on its noise
For it's better to live with the clutter
Than waste time with yesterday's toys.
-- A response to an old poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.