Paper Ephemera

Dear children, I have read that

there are things you won’t want

when I leave this world

for brighter shores.

Dishes and silver,

dark furniture, old books,

clothes musty with age.

And paper ephemera.

The notes and letters, drawings,

scribbled notes and other

bits of life accumulated in the

nooks and crannies of the rambling

log house where you were raised

like beautiful poet-wolves.

I read that we must scan it into electrons,

and leave it on hard drives

where you can view it on screens,

like proper moderns.  That way you can

store it on your phone or tablet and it will not

take up any space in your life.

But I recoil from this.

I have taken notes on your lives

since I first saw you see light.

I have scribbled and rhymed

and observed.  These things are on paper.

My DNA is in the ideas.  My DNA is on the paper.

Your mother’s letters and notes

some stained with her tears of joy

or of sorrow.  Marked with her

elegant hand in distinction to mine,

like an ape learning letters.

These things you can touch, hold, smell, press

to you as if the hand that wrote them

still lingered nearby.

I have other paper.  I have the words

you wrote, like early man trying

to scratch markes on walls, trying

from your innocence and brilliance,

sans symbols, to say something to us

out of the eons and ages deep wells

of your beautiful souls.  I have the places

where crayons scribbled and where

we handed you pens in church and your

stories and drawings were profound

and ridiculous.  I touch them too,

as if you still sat on my lap. Some of them

sleep in my old Bible. There they will stay.

Paper ephemera clutters.  It catches fire.

It is usually, in the end, discarded.

But be wary.

There is, in the paper, a link, a portal from

this time to that.  It is tactile;

more real than stored files. (Which also

go away, of course.)

It has touched the ones you love.

We speak through it.

Paper ephemera that says

I lived.  I love you.

Edwin Leap 2018