Philip Memmer

The God of Importance
by Philip Memmer

That book you loved—the heavy one

listing your human words

and what they mean—

it’s still where you left it

all those years ago:

on the crowded bottom shelf,

three books from the left, in the parlor

by your rented summer room.

Since then

it’s not been opened…it’s not

been touched, except

by the housekeeper, dusting—

the same housekeeper you knew

so many summers back,

years older now, yes, but

her step still quiet, her voice

still like a bell.

She still thinks of you—expects,

sometimes, to see you sitting there

with that book open

to a page of words,

the paper so thin she wonders

which weighs more, the page

or the words themselves…

The words, she decides, remembering

the book you wrote there,

her favorite,

now on her shelf at home—two copies,

in fact…the way, sometimes,

the faithful

keep extra scriptures on hand

to lend at need…


I know: it sounds absurd. But

why not, just this once, admit

you might have mattered?

Or if not you, really,

then at least your work…and if not

your work itself, then the fact

that she worked—

hard—and by so doing

became a part of something

she didn’t expect,

something only you

and your goddamn humility

can now take away?

She dusts. She remembers you,

just for a moment,

then gets on with the day.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 20, Issue 4.

Philip MemmerPhilip Memmer is the author of four books of poems, most recently The Storehouses of the Snow (Lost Horse Press, 2012). His work has appeared in such journals as Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and Poetry London, and in several anthologies, including 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. His newest book of poems, Pantheon, will be published by Lost Horse Press in early 2019.

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