The Altar Of Memory - Poem by Patti Masterman
Why, as the end of life appears in sight
Does everything become an artifact?
Childhood returns for the second time
And everything becomes unbearably precious,
Exhaustible, vulnerable; never to be replaced.
The psyche, which has been rooting itself
In these same bodies, for untold millions of years,
Suddenly spreads itself even wider;
Attempting to snag everything within reach-
Things totally useless, and devoid of any meaning
To everybody except us.
Old lovers in our minds, resemble scenes from romantic paintings;
More loving, more caring, than the reality ever was.
Our parents appear more genteel, our children more endearing;
The whole world is like the most terribly fragile work of art;
Even the simple act of baking a cake seems a magic trick,
Available nowhere else in the universe,
Because wheat is a treasure from earth's bosom itself,
And butter and eggs must be novelties,
Coming from the bodies of two completely different animals;
Able to mix with wheat, and then become something tall and airy,
Rising lightly toward the sky, like an ascending puff of cloud.
Snapshots for our memory altars, and fresh flowers for the dead
Who have left everything once important to them behind;
No wonder ancient peoples set out feasts for their deceased;
Our imaginations are huge enough to comprehend anything
But the empty husks, of those we loved: or else our own.
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