~ for Seamus Heaney
Some thing are for keeping-
the candle stub, the bent hanger,
a strip of old tire tube;
the nail, the screw, the burnt out light bulb
A wine-bottle cork, a robins’-egg shell.
Pick them up and put them away,
you’ll come across them again
tomorrow or next week or next year when
you need a nail or screw.
Open the drawer and pick one out,
no harm’s done,
no more rust
than when you found it.
But some things aren’t for keeping-
blackberries for sure,
A sun ripe tomato,
trailing arbutus, the first wild rose.
Keep the baby’s blanket
but let the baby grow
enjoy the sweet smell of milk breath
while it lasts.
A perfect June day, rare as myrrh,
is not for keeping,
for tomorrow’s rain
or wind, blows in
a new direction.
What was once sweet and fresh
is now unbearable,
even in the shade.
We thought we could keep it
but as night came on, we knew.
And the fireflies, who hold the night in sway,
Signaled the gift of another day.