THINGS THEY SAVE
Because I stopped
to shine my shoes in the street
with spit on a hankie,
I am fine and dandy
where otherwise I might not be.
Had I ignored wet pigeon shit
dirtying my patent leather,
that baby grand split from rope
on its way out the window
would have pinned me
and my fouled shoes instantly,
nasty trash for garbage collectors.
Somebody didn’t tie the rope
tight or right, who knows?
All I can tell you is when
that piano hit pavement it splintered
in a cacophony of sharps and flats.
You ever hear a piano die?
For luck I put in my trouser pocket
a black key landed to the right of me.
Whenever I do die let my wife
dispose it with the rest of my things.
As long as she buries me
in my one good pair of leather shoes.
* * *
People wondered why
a handsome man married me.
His auburn hair I cut the way he liked.
My quiet mouth was almost pretty.
I licked threads fed through eyes
of silver needles to hem his pants.
My husband was afraid of fire.
I saved the cremation receipt
with his few love letters.
His ashes are under our bed
in a box cheaper than a casket.
Tomorrow I go through his clothes.
—from Rattle #28, Winter 2007
Monica Groth Farrar, RN, BSN, BA: “I wrote ‘Things They Save’ after reading about a man captured in an early daguerreotype because ‘he stopped to shine his shoes in the street.’ Intrigued by the sound of that sentence, I wondered what would happen if I tried to tell the man’s story.”