Heirs to the bone

After her death, but only just, we relatives assemble
in what her house has been, her presence lingering
in furniture and cups, food stocks for just in case
a war breaks out quite near. “Who knows! Life can be such a gamble!”

We touch her old bone china plates, the ones with pinkish flowers,
we listen, we expect her voice still echoing
in all that has to be divided, how can we not feel shame
to go through what was on her name and now has to be ours?


Comments on: "Heirs to the bone" (8)

  1. Remarkably expressed.


  2. I find this powerful, Ina. One of the most difficult experiences we can have as human beings is to sort through a loved one’s collection of life-stuff after they’ve died. This captures that experience beautifully. When our son died we did not have that experience. His girl friend cut off communication before his cremation, and we have not been able to see anything other than the few things she sent us. Maybe, reading this poem, that’s for the best in a way. Life is complicated with its whirlpools of emotion and thoughts dredged from places in our hearts that we are not fully aware of even. Perhaps some experiences, not meant to be, are okay in their absence.

    • Hi Thomas, this was written in memory of my aunt, she had no children and left her belongings to her nephews and nieces. It brought back memories going through her stuff, but also some embarresment, to get so private. All was divided in good harmony though. We all wanted the others to have her things rather than have them ourselves as momentoes. Memories are not material after all. I am sorry your sons gf cut off communication with you, that must have been difficult for you.

  3. Really related to this, Ina. Just had an aunt die who had estranged herself from us, and what happens to her personal things is up to the lawyer who is executor of her will. Strange how possessions define us and yet can suddenly belong to someone else. And on and on it goes …

    • Hi Diane, yes that is strange, some of her belongings are now part of our household, and I just hope she would approve of how we handle them…

  4. Touched my own heart memory of going through my mother’s things after her death. Objects can be so much more than just things – they contain their own magic intensified by lineage and familiarity…

    • Hi John, yes they can be more, and some of the things of my mother I can only now get myself to looking at properly, after 3 years.

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