Deborah DeNicola

(Richland, Washington)

The Persistance of Encumbrance


Lord, life after half a century drags a Uhaul behind it.
A truck load of possessions that don’t love me back.

So why am I toting a storage room, walls of books,
tired photos in cracked frames, the engraved silverware

my mother didn’t want, crates of carnival glass I scrounged for
in antique shops? Lord, just where is my bargain after burden?

And where is my childhood blanket to sleep in as I cross
this intersection of clouds in the rearview mirror

on my way down highways in Maine and Massachusetts
where years of walking beaches with winters’ held breath

sent me inside to hunker by woodstoves, my father’s
old iron poker tied in a parcel I’ll never unwrap?

Why must things crush me into the gravel of one coast
when all I want is spirit travel over continents never seen?

I can promise you this, I’ll never settle again in a homestead
with lace curtains and braided rugs. Isn’t it enough

that earworms from old songs shadow my brainwaves?
I’m refusing encumbrance right now—not strapping the stereo

or the queen size mattress to the roof. It’s no sin to divest myself
of pillows and jewels, candlesticks, my great aunt’s Deco lamps.

Do we hoard and schlepp during most of our good years
because we know our bodies can’t last? Since memories vanish,

why not dump them now before earth’s rising waters
eclipse everything we can’t tie down? And what bureaucrat

draws state lines so tight that looking back doesn’t shift any light?
I’ve prayed silently and aloud in many cities for many miles.

I think my car itself might be the closest thing to home.
Do the homeless know something we don’t? Lord,

I thank you for all the crossroads and the carrying, for all the tolls
I’ve run—but can’t I set down these cartons once and for all?

I need to know like birds flying south which sign is the right exit.
Why can’t I slide with the sun behind tree lines, trip into dapple,

ride quiet on fruit motes until all mornings roll backward
to the first day I was naked in the first world?

Submitted: Thursday, April 03, 2014
Edited: Friday, April 04, 2014

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

This poem came out of an exercise for writing a driving poem and talking to God.

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