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the list

by Maria Francesca

"make a list", she said,
"in no particular order,
of the ten things that mean the most to you;
only the things
you feel like you can't do without."

so we all got to work,
searching for those ten things
that made it possible
to wake up every day:

family,
friends,
money,
pets,
careers,
music,
memories,

the list went on.

"now", she said,
"choose one to eliminate;
what, out of the ten,
will you give up?"

furled brows decorated the room,
and reluctant hands
crossed out beloved items.

"choose another", she demanded,
and we labored over the further sacrifice
of the things we held most precious.

the exercise continued,
until we got down
to the last two items,
and someone stood up, sobbing,
and left the room,
refusing to play along any longer.

"choose", she demanded of the rest of us.
"if you don't choose,
I'll choose for you."

we finished up,
leaving only one item for each of us to keep
and she took command of the room once more
to point this out:

"these are the losses
our parents and grandparents have faced.
this is part of the lives they have lived.
this is what put those wrinkles on their faces,
those gray hairs on their heads,
and those angry words in their mouths.

I charge you to remember this
every day,
every minute you spend in their lives."

she left the room, then,
and we sat
still and silent as a church

and I vowed to myself
to take up her challenge.

and I thought about
how you were my last item.

12/18/2008

Posted on 12/18/2008
Copyright © 2022 Maria Francesca

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Melissa Panther on 12/18/08 at 11:52 PM

The last stanza really makes me consider who would be the last person on my list...lovely piece Maria.

Posted by George Hoerner on 12/19/08 at 12:17 AM

Really a great thought provoking write! Well done Maria. We all need to ask ourselves this question.

Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 12/19/08 at 04:33 AM

That sounds like a good list to me. Wonderfully done.

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