Monday, April 11, 2022

Elaine Handley - One Poem

Scavenger Heart


           -in Memory of Naton Leslie

Suddenly, we knew you were going,

as if your body was shouting

“I am dying: Ta-da!” a collection of bones

near collapse as we talked music

while the faint rattle of death 

dickered a rhythm.

Who wouldn’t be made ragged

by the collection of cells mutating 

the network roughly mappable

like a watershed, a hundred tributaries.


You called us to witness the clutter, sweet junk

and value of life, stuff of misgivings and wonder:

everything…gathered, from the doodad

collector to the hoarder of rusted machines.

What is useful, what is precious reach out

from someplace deep and crucial and enfold

that rusted kettle, battered blanket chest, 

or extraordinary silver candelabra--

treasures in light of your final bid.

Scavengers are also salvagers, and part 

of what they save is some intrinsic part

of themselves. We save what we fancy,

what pricks our heart, and the tarnished 

old clock of your life goes on ticking there. 

*Italicized excerpts from That Might Be Useful: Exploring America’s Secondhand Culture by Naton Leslie

Elaine Handley has been published in a wide variety of magazines, journals and anthologies and is a three time winner of the Adirondack Center for Writing Best Book of Poetry in 3 different years.  Her chapbook, Securing the Perimeter, was recently published by Clare Songbird Publishing House.

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