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