Moving things

by Debbie Lee

The things we take, the stuff we leave.
The boxes we tag, the soft swallow of tears.
The saucepan lid orphans, the cups we cherish.

All the things, the dust, the mould, the dry papers,
thin as the pale skin stretched & wrinkled. All 
the pain, heartbreak, politeness in cards & letters

– news of miscarriages, injustice, silence, surgeries.
To discard, throw away, render obsolescent.
To retain, hold onto, cherish or hoard.

What is the line? Am I holding this line?
The tupperware, the nutrimetics, his medication,
best before 1997, but his – to keep/discard,

retain/relinquish, sigh/sigh/sob. The rage, 
the fears, the hand tremors, the pointed fingers,
meaningless as yet another sermon on tithing.

I dream about Mizpah memories. Hands held to collect
hen eggs; the dresses & hats worn to attend church,
yet the colours merge into real objects. The things

we take, the stuff we leave. The red bread bin,
the yellow bridesmaid dress, the cerulean eyes,
the green paint tins, the pink geraniums.

The off-white lace curtains, the orange cannisters,
the purple buttons; the discoloured lino, the bees
or wasps or locusts I gladly flee; for the family

who awaits me, the friends I will miss. But not as
much as I once thought. Such things fall away,
fall apart, like a rusty trailer or wheelbarrow.

Emotion is what remains, pulls me from Brisbane
dreams to muddy Warrnambool waters. Like the uneven
path around the house & verandah, I feel unsteady.

So many faces I would not recognise. Grief
for the losses, the unimaginable emotion that 
holds so much weight, like volcanic rocks.

Making all of these things, all of this stuff,
so much harder to discard than 
I would ever have believed.

Debbie Lee adores poetry and stories. She calls her middle sister B and has been drawn to B-towns such as Ballarat, Brunswick and Brisbane. Publications include Cicerone Journal, fourW, Page Seventeen, Paradise Anthology, Pink Panther Magazine, pressure gauge journal and Stereo Stories. For more writing, please visit