Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Spring Clean

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Spring Clean

Article excerpt

I've emptied drawers, files and shelves. A clean

break I say as I pack in the first batch, letters

from the living, epistles from the dead, tax returns,

journals, certificates, clippings, drafts, manuscripts,

cremate the lot, I think, the house too if I could, but

I've jammed them in so tight no air can get among them,

nothing will take, each corner I light flares, splutters,

dies. So I grab the poker, fluff it all up best I can,

and it takes, eats a poem, quits. I try again again,

poke, lift, turn, light, flare and fade. I quit. Now what?

Try again. A brief blaze and roar, but the pile seems

more not less. Sometimes bits of scorched paper

fly into the room before I can close the stove.

The whole place stinks of smoke. …

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