By Jen Drociak

A starfish washed up on the beach

I’ve never been much of one
to collect or save mementos;
intact slipper shells,
angel wings,
or even the elusive sea star
washed upon the rocky shore.

a perfectly-rounded stone
smoothed by the pummeling ocean waves
or a piece of sea glass, once keeping time in a bottle.

Nor even a flower, some may deem a weed
picked among the milkweed
from the soft-shoulder of a dirt road
and tucked behind my ear.

The only mementoes I’ve saved –
two arrowheads I uncovered
from the bony earth of my parent’s yard as a child.
I was convinced the piles of nearby granite stone
marked the shallow graves of Native Americans
when they were merely fragments
of adjacent agricultural stone walls.

We collect and save
these vestiges; these relics
in order to preserve
yet in doing so attempt to deceive time
and hopelessly fill a sieve with sand.

Some things will survive
the methodical purge
of whatever keepsakes may accumulate
and be damned a needless knick-knack –
photographs; the dusty memories they evoke
letters written in pen and ink,
poems of desire, love, heartache.

Most of it is ephemeral, after all
since we are transitory,
these moments, fleeting,
these feelings, temporary.

I give you small mementoes;
notes written on front pages of newspapers during the pandemic,
trinkets such as vintage trading cards, and mummified sticks of bubble gum
because you have a trunk for such items; a treasure chest.

I don’t fault you for this.
In fact, I quite admire these tokens; this ritual you preserve.
It gives me the feeling of hope
that we will make it
even when I fear we won’t.

Category: Featured, Poetry