Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see
your house catch fire.
– Wendell Berry (“Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer”)
One would think with age that utility
might parallel the flesh, lend assistance
with our last breath, yet the old barn bulges
with the past leaking through the bats
and boards of weathered one-by-twelves,
tin roof rusty, wind-turned at the edges.
Beyond the locked green doors, silver veil
of cobwebs, trunks in dark corners, scurry
of black widows saved for this moment
passed from before we were born.
We see what they could not burn—
the weakness of heart and the clutter
cleared from their minds as relinquished
totems of another time. We come to know
our blood, cling to tokens of who we are.