Keeper of the Relics

Another week, another Big Tent Poetry prompt to respond to. Where does the time go? I suppose I might have written about something else altogether, if the need had not arisen for me to approach “the boxes” in search of an important paper. Funny how that works.

Keeper of the Relics

In my house is a storage room,
and in that storage room are boxes,
lots of boxes, the kind you can buy
at a moving and storage facility
or even an office supply store,
and in those boxes are relics,
old letters and postcards, the matching
skirts my father brought back one year
from Greece for my sisters and me,
my mother’s knitting needles and yarn,
left over from long abandoned projects—
things too baffling to keep, too precious
to throw away, things that defy
categorization, the detritus of a life,
two lives, well spent, now gone before.

Read other responses here.


21 thoughts on “Keeper of the Relics

  1. It’s sort of an hourglass you’ve written- general at the first, narrowing toward the specific, but not quite closing before it flares again. I like “too baffling to keep” .

  2. I love the title of your poem. It has just a bit of the fantasy/surreal feel to it. And I find that when I start going through my Mother’s things, I can get lost for long periods of time in her past, as well as my own. Thank you for this one,


    • Elizabeth– I’m glad you could relate. It does feel a bit surreal to me to be responsible for winnowing through my parents’ possessions and trying to make sense of them all. Do I keep an item if I have no idea what its significance was? Several people recommended I wait a few years, before even trying to sort the boxes. The most difficult of all to approach are the old letters, windows to the past, and to grandparents I never knew. Someday…

  3. Beautiful! You’ve written this with such feeling. I recognize this scene – and am busily contributing to the confusion my own children will face. It’s kind of a shame we can’t take it with us. 🙂

  4. Cara, well done poem. I too can relate. I too have things from my parents’ & the last one died many years ago. I don’t think people realize during their lifetimes what all they will leave behind and how difficult it might be for the heirs.

  5. Wonderful poem. It leaves me with tears in my eyes.

    things that defy
    categorization, the detritus of a life,
    two lives, well spent, now gone before

    Wow – beautifully composed . . .

    • Thank you, Nan. For the longest time,I couldn’t for the life of me imagine why my parents saved so many things, but now, as “the keeper of the relics”, I understand perfectly. Each item, like an artifact, reveals bits and pieces of my parents’ past, making me feel at times almost like an archaeologist.

  6. Wonderful, Cara. Captures so much in such few lines. I am particularly fond of …

    “things too baffling to keep, too precious/ to throw away, things that defy”

    … as it shows the dilemma so well.

    I also like the contrast between the “any old box” and what they hold.

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