This is not my attic! One good result in moving homes as many times as I have, is that I have had to shed some stuff with each move! However, like a dog shedding hair, more seems to grow! So after 10 moves I still have a basement of stuff! Way too much stuff! I thoroughly enjoy the poems of Gregory Djanikian and have shared some of his poems over the past few tears. Today I share his poem entitled Stuff. Some folks have described Djanikian’s writing as exploring private and public legacies of family, history, and culture. Some of his poems are shaped by his own Armenian heritage as a child before his emigration to the USA. Often his poems are sad, revealing and funny all at the same time. Stephen Dunn calls him “a gardener of the human spirit whose poems replenish while offering readers a wonderful variety of tones”. Pause as you read his lines and as you go through all those boxes you have packed away in basements or attics remember parents, grandparents, family of long ago! “Stuff of our days prolonging us.”
I’m packing up my son’s toy trumpet,
the one with the missing valve.
I’m storing my grandmother’s wool coat
in a box among all the other boxes.
Serving plates, eyeglasses, books,
old letters in a fine hand-
so much stuff has collected,
bags of it, suitcases.
I’d like to know what Einstein kept in his satchel
when he left Zurich forever,
what Rosa Bonheur tossed out
to make her workroom roomier.
At night, I imagine the sheep I count
are flocking in my basement.
In the morning, I find two of everything,
sugar bowls, newspapers, coffee urns.
Somewhere, milkweed pods,
must be blowing away like froth,
a kite is snipping its own taut string.
I look at my grandfather’s nightshirts
hanging disconsolately in my closet,
my father’s thumbprints
are on the accordion I never play.
Generations unraveling – how many?
before the memory of the person is lost,
photographs of faces that have no names,
billet-doux that leave no addresses?
Stuff of our days prolonging us.
Gregory Djanikian: Sojourners of the In-Between
Holy God, in scripture
we encounter many families,
Sarah and Abraham, Isaac, Esau and Jacob,
and 12 sons including Joseph, and youngest
Benjamin. These are only a few.
We too, O Lord, make attempts from time to time
to record our ancestors and treasure tangible
evidence of generations past. We hold tight those
stories that have been passed down the generations, not
worrying too much about accuracy but delighting
in the light that they shed. Out of our past is born our future
and in-between we have the task of living this gift of life.
Help us not to be overwhelmed by our dust collecting stuff.
Might we hold on to that which speaks of life, of family, of hope
of forgiveness and of love.
Dwell with us, O Loving Lord,
and might your faithfulness to past generations
be kept alive for the present and for the future. In you,
O Lord, we trust and hope that your faithfulness
to each and to all generations will
prolong our days. Amen.
One thought on “Stuff!”
It has taken me a couple of days to reduce my thoughts on Stuff to a reasonably brief comment and I’m still not sure I’ve succeeded! I find it interesting that there is enough information written on the notion of “decluttering stuff” to fill a bookstore (and the internet), at the same time shopping continues to be national recreation. Perhaps as a culture we have difficulty discerning the difference between wants and needs. I like the poem and I understand it.
I believe that a lifetime of accumulation can provide a story, can ground us in who we are, where we’ve been and what is meaningful in our memories. But more important than that, it teaches us how incredibly fortunate we have been and how grateful we should be. In this crazy world, the boxed stuff of several generations helps me feel secure, provides family entertainment, spurs memories and if the time comes when I must live in a single room with few possessions I know exactly what will come with me: A My children’s earliest drawings, my father’s bookends, a pair of wooden sparrows which always sat on the mantle in my childhood home, my grandmother’s measuring spoons, a few family photos and a photo album of only pictures of me and my husband taken on each of our anniversaries. None of these have any monetary worth but each has high heart value.
The most meaningful words for me in the post come from your prayer: “Might we hold on to which speaks of life, of family, of hope, of forgiveness, and of love.” For this is the stuff of which dreams have been made.