Clearing out the Cupboards

four weeks from the funeral
and I’m still sifting
can’t quite binbag
the cardigans she kept for best
the good coats

I turn to the middle drawer
drifts of old cards
some kept for sentiment
but most for writing lists
milk and brasso
on the back of ‘fondest love’
a wrinkled freezer bag
stuffed with odd screws
drawing pins saved string

back left hand corner
underneath yellow cuttings
and three past their use-by coupons
my father’s teeth

she’d been a widow fourteen years
do hospitals hand back your dentures
when you die
do you get a wedding ring and teeth
were they too intimate a thing
to throw away
were they forgotten
or thought of every day

Jan Dean

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About Jan Dean

Poet-in-schools
This entry was posted in A poem a day for April and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Clearing out the Cupboards

  1. That is a lovely poem.

  2. Liz Brownlee says:

    Lovely and heartbreaking. I found my dad’s denture cream in mum’s bathroom cabinet after he died, she couldn’t bear to remove it – as you say, too intimate. Or – intimate enough to comfort. I helped her clear things afterwards… but when she died 5 years later, I found notes from my dad under all the lining paper in her drawers. And in her handbag, a shopping list in my dad’s handwriting. That was the thing that did me in.

    I didn’t know you were doing a poem a day, Jan, how did I miss that?

  3. Jan Dean says:

    I did it last year too. Angela says posting things like this means I can’t send them off as they count as published, but I think I’m blogging drafts to share with friends.

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