Hope Chest

IMG_2895Hope Chest

Virginia Boudreau

A few gold apples cling to black branches
on a twisted tree I pass every day.
I walk and watch, filled with wonder:
how can you be dying?

My driveway seems steep, the house further away.
The weeping mulberry is a chandelier
balancing crystal tears, trembling and precarious.
I think of your eyes that rainy afternoon last summer.

It was the day we unpacked your hope chest
to make it lighter for the move to your new house.
“It’s heavy.” you’d said, “It needs to be
easier to carry.”

Your voice was soft as fingers stroking
the worn scrapbook, I remember
loose pages falling like leaves
when you picked it up.

It took us a long time: memories
lingered and snagged on fences
that seemed too hard to climb.
So many photographs,
a lifetime of greeting cards full
of words we’d never spoken…
you’d held on to them all.

Dried rose petals and newspaper clippings,
ticket stubs and school projects,
scraps of ribbon, your button jar.
We took everything out, loaded boxes
for moving day. It seemed easier to laugh then.

Your trunk is at the new house now.
You were wheezing yesterday when
you told me you hadn’t gotten around
to unpacking cartons yet; some things,
you said, you can only do yourself.

I understand, but help me not to cringe
when I picture your hope chest sitting empty
as each dusk steals the fading light from your room.

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