The Closet, NaPoWriMo

spring cleaning,

of a sort—perhaps–

objects that

beget the

remembrance, past events, some

forgotten, we smile


at the old

report cards, boxes

of them and

school projects–

you kept them through all the moves–

holding our childhoods


long after

we’d outgrown them, but

there it is–

a lunchbox–

a small book I made for you,

in a school art class,


there my first

published book, you stamped

it with your

name, assigned

it to classes, proud father

storing books and dreams,


phases of

our lives sharing space

with antiques.

Ming vases

once held living flowers, but

all things turn to dust–


we vacuum

the closet, and close

the door, laugh

so much junk!

Though I understand wanting

to hoard memories



Today, Day 18 of NaPoWriMo, we’re challenged to write an elegy “one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail.”  This is written in a series of shadorma stanzas. I couldn’t get this poem started until I remembered my sisters and I cleaning out the big storage closet in my dad’s last apartment. He died over twenty years ago in May.

I’m also linking this to Open Link Night at dVerse.

















62 thoughts on “The Closet, NaPoWriMo

  1. Nostalgia is a well spring of emotions. I confess as to being a memory hoarder. But my wife and I are “Spring cleaning” a lot these days; telling the children to retrieve their stuff before it goes to Goodwill.

    • Thank you. Yes–my husband has been going through some of the stuff we “hoarded.” Then there are things I wish I had kept, but didn’t. 🙂 We’ve been storing some things for our girls, but now one is buying a house, so she’ll be able to take some of hers.

  2. I used to be a hoarder of memories, til we downsized. I cried as I released the stuff of things past. May our memories keep them all alive… until we turn to dust.
    Wow – you got me musing on this one, Merril. xo

    • Thank you so much, Pam.
      Yes, we’re still in a house filled with lots of stuff that needs to be sorted through–though my husband has done some of it. My Dad though did get rid of things, but that storage closet in his apartment was full. 🙂

  3. It could be the words of my children when I’m gone and they are going through my chest of family memorabilia! Indeed, you depict it well.

  4. Very touching. I enjoy how you started with “spring cleaning”. What followed was surprising, slightly unexpected and I really enjoyed the poem. You have a way with words that holds my interest!

  5. Wow does this strike a chord. I’m taking a year off from travel to do exactly this. If we could only throw the boxes away without having to take a long journey through each one–but of course, we must.

  6. This is so good… our treasures are full of so many memories.
    I liked this…
    you kept them through all the moves–
    holding our childhoods

    long after
    we’d outgrown them

  7. The shadorma stanzas convey the way memories cascade on us and make the poem even more poignant. You’ve definitely communicated sadness in the physical detail, Merril. I have to admit that I am envious of your experience with your sisters as I didn’t get to do this with mine. My heart skipped when I read the lines:

    ‘holding our childhoods

    long after
    we’d outgrown them, but
    there it is–
    a lunchbox–
    a small book I made for you,
    in a school art class’.

    • Thank you very much, Kim. Yes, having siblings to help made the experience much better–and now easier with caring for my mom.
      My husband recently found that little book when cleaning out our own basement, so I guess it was in the back of my mind.

  8. The details and tiny treasures evoked the emotion so well. It reminded me of my own closet that I am avoiding….many hoarded memories, but I think what if I died tomorrow, someone would have a few laughs. I have my kids’ teeth in there (Tooth fairy)!

  9. Brilliant use of the closet to offer a warm glimpse of moments in your life. Well written Merril. I enoyed it, but I have always thought I was perhpd a little voyeuristic…

  10. In a world where we are often so busy and unaware of time so often, I always believed that these little mementos we find in the attic or in the basement should be cherished.

  11. Ugh. Maybe I waited till now to read this (No, I’m not behind in my inbox nor am I procrastinating going through my closets in preparation of my move… No, I’m not.)

    This was lovely, though!

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