I moved a lot growing up,
so I didn't like throwing things away.
I liked collecting things—until finally
they made things stamped “COLLECTIBLE.”
The day of collecting was past.
I still collected things, but
I came to seize those days where
I caught myself throwing something out
that I hadn't expected to.
I'd furiously rush to throw away more,
before the packratishness returned.
Some things I couldn't get rid of, though.
They were reminders of times past,
pointers into a tangled web of human memory,
the URLs of the mind.
To lose them would be to lose the memory,
or perhaps just to lose the opportunity
to accidentally click through—
revisiting times past.
It's why we're all so confused when someone dies.
Their things seemed so important the day before.
Now we want to treat them reverently,
but we can't.
There's nothing left to access.
The value was within the person,
a human being,
Once open for service,
now finally closed forever to visitors.
These artifacts of experience
performed their function
only for the one (or the few) who participated
in the memory's creation,
and to whom it had been entrusted.
Gone the site of our memory,
the possessions we amass
are but 404 URLs.
Packrat that I am,
it's sometimes been
that I could let the thing go,
keeping just the picture.
So after traveling on business for years,
I felt sure that I was destined
to open up a little shop
to sell all those little hotel soaps
and little hotel shampoos.
I finally had to let go of that idea.
They were taking up too much space!
But first, I took a snapshot
though sometimes art themselves,
as keys are ephemeral.
have the password
to the protected site
where the memory lingers.
Author's Note: If you got value from this post, please “Share” it.
Originally published October 7, 2008 at Open Salon, where I wrote under my own name, Kent Pitman.
Tags (from Open Salon): poem, poetry, memory, remembering, photos, photographs, death, net, internet, url, tinyurl, 404, hotel soap, hotel shampoo