-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.