by Ed Orzechowski
Through the back door, open to the cold of March,
They came to paw through the remnants of her life,
To get good deals on stuff.
Legal looters of dead people’s houses,
Poking, lifting, dismissing.
“How much? Any coins? Any jewelry?”
Through orphaned cups and chipped enamel pots spread across the countertop,
A knickknack clutter of bunnies, ducks, and sleeping porcelain cats,
A Virgin Mary shrine by the window.
A stout wringer washing machine,
A roasting oven, but no microwave,
A pipe rack, a wooden cane, a faded fedora.
Through her kitchen, through her living room, and into her bedroom
Where she and her husband—now three decades dead—
Once lay behind drawn shades.
On the back of her closet door, unnoticed,
A tattered insurance company calendar,
The reverse of its pages an abbreviated journal.
Each entry penciled in a careful hand,
A patchwork of mundane and life-altering pieces
Now interlocked forever …
We got married 2/18/47
I wear size 6 ½ ring
The house is 38 X 40, back porch builded 1957
Anton came America 2/13/57, Mary was 13
Catherine in Poland birthday 8/26/87, 86 yrs old
Fourth floor, 1200 Main Street, Social Security Office
Al got divorce 5/4/71
Helen Alden died 7/12/ 92
I went to Boston with her in 1985
Take vacation last week in April to cut raspberries
Peter Kravitz went to nursing home 12/20/91
Walter Hanes moved out 9/5/94, gone to Florida
I fell Jan 26, 84
Dr. Steiger, don’t go to him
I seen the cat for the last time 5/18/85
I hope God will come and take me home soon.
Jim operated 5/24/84
Came home 5/30/84
Ma came to live with me 3/19/74
Ma fell 2/25/81
I hope God will come and take me home soon …
Life’s chronicle, on the back of her closet door.
Still, the strangers—hunting, picking, touching.
“Any tools? Does this work? Give you a buck.”