in my parents’ house without them here,
Mom, eight years gone, Dad ambling toward her
down the long hall of Assisted Living, and me,
their only, tasked with sorting through 66 years
of housekeeping.

Every drawer, every shelf yells stay away, we’re
happy here, and where will you take us when you
pull us out? Those smiling young faces in all the
pictures, the dishes, the dishes, who will they feed?
The table’s too big.

I crank open the windows to birdsong, the young
rabbit nibbling clover, innocent in the grass, recall
the crack of the bat on whiffle ball, the tire swing,
swing set, blue bike still hanging upside down in
the garage waiting, for what?

It’s a terrible job, auction date looming when
strangers will come, bid and haul their lives away,
or all the things I cannot save. And what can I save?
Voices raised around the piano as my mother played.
Corn fresh from the garden,

dripping butter.