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50 years
at the cutting edge
of poetry publishing

Mary O'Donnell, from The Ark Builders

Dead People's Clothes

Father's blue silk socks,
mother-in-law's scarf.
Grandmother's purse,
aunty's white plastic beads.
So we wear history,
hold onto vacated things
that they once lived in,
historians to the end.
The smell of inheritance
lingers in our nostrils.

We imagine them here,
as buildings, sometimes too tall,
too oppressive, as so often in life,
no matter the antique charm,
or how we grew in those high rooms,
becoming what we are now:
hooked. Carrying it along
with every step: father's silk socks;
mother-in-law's scarf, those old,
dead people's clothes.