On Tidying Up
by Rebecca Starks

after Marie Kondo

Let everything you own pass through your hands
and keep only what brings you joy.
You’ll never have to do it again.

Live in a museum of your joy.
The pebble lifted from a stream that still gleams, dry;
the shirt that fits just right in the bust;

the wallet that’s served you twenty years;
the unexpected sight of your name,
that buried original self-delight. Joy.

But toss everything out blind
and you’ll drag its ghost behind you forever,
a boa constricting your DNA.

You who never wanted to live your life over,
moving always upwind,
only sniffing after it when the cut tin swings—

You wanted the possibility of being reminded
so you could forget it all.
Forget it, the way you forget your breath.

Let the true shades push forward
like the wafer dissolving
on Cassandra’s tongue.

From childhood, whistling.
From school, the defenestration of Prague.
From your lovers, only your children.

You’ve named them all Joy.
From your living will, one sentence:
until nothing brings you joy.

What is joy but the plant tip, the terminal bud
seeking out light
it doesn’t need to see?

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 2.

Rebecca Starks’s poems have appeared in Slice, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Carolina Quarterly, Poetry Northwest and elsewhere. Her fiction has appeared in Crab Orchard Review. She edits Mud Season Review and teaches lifelong learners at the University of Vermont.

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