I used to collect sticks at random,
one from Princeton campus when I was 18
I kept it for 40 years until I lost it.
another I found in the woods next to a house I loved
It took me five years to not miss the house
I practically had a breakdown when we left
houses are not collectible, nor savable
I saved a tuft of my dead cat’s fur
it is tucked into a small cardboard jewelry box in my dresser drawer
I thought I could summon his DNA from that tuft
and that he would return
during the night like an alien visitor
I had another cat.
he had a heart attack one day and died in my arms
it happened so fast
there was no saving him.
I stole river stones from Bittersweet Falls
to mark my dead cat’s grave
When we moved from the house I loved, I stole the stones
from his grave
I piled them on a windowsill in my new house
the stones felt smooth and cool in my hand as if they’d always belonged to me and
I hadn’t stolen them at all
I save photos on my phone.
I have so many that the Verizon guy rolled his eyes
then he explained how the Cloud could help me with my problem.
I still don’t believe him.
I’m afraid to lose the photos.
what if I lose the people?
the photos will be all that remain
so I hoard the photos and
hope for the best.
My mother and I correspond via U.S. mail
Mommy sends me cards that she orders from the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters
I send her artist cards that I buy at the co-op
her cards cost $.49 each
mine cost $3.00
both she and I like cards with birds on them
the cost of the birds is irrelevant
I save these cards from my mother;
she is 92 years old
each time one arrives in the mailbox whether it is my birthday or Christmas
I think “I am 68 years old
and receive cards from my mother.”
I say it out loud for emphasis
Her handwriting is still Catholic- schoolgirl-holy
my dresser drawer is crammed with these beauties
her beautiful DNA is on them
When she is gone, the cards will make it seem as if she is still with me
like a cat reincarnate
or river stones piled high on a windowsill