The Million Dollar Storage Unit

The cardboard boxes labeled and neatly stacked

contain what he once thought was the sum of his life:

birth certificate, marriage license, college degree,

what he wrote on legal pads, napkins, scraps of paper

after long walks in the snow, jungle afternoons of heat and rain,

birthday cards, trophies, newspaper clippings, souvenirs,

once important legal files that no longer have meaning,

and he has paid to store them here year after year

for someone to come and throw them away

 

 

The cardboard smells rank of formaldehyde and dead insects,

the invaders and thieves of everything he valued,

his grade school friends, the men and women he worked with,

the revelers at restaurants and bars, the strangers who shared

one time moments in airports on the way to nowhere

 

 

The photo albums have become too painful to open

and who will frame the pictures and hang them

on their walls when there is so much of life yet to see?

 

 

He overhears another man in the next unit joking

to himself or an invisible companion,

“You cain’t drag a UHaul into heaven,”

spitting out the word, “junk!” time to time

in a harsh voice sounding of final judgment

 

 

And he knows it’s true and he knows that all he has

he carries in his head and in the next step he takes

out into the sunlight and into the wind rearranging

the last of his hair and remainder of his moments

 

 

Not worth the time to arrange for an estate sale

or leave in a will for someone who will pay

someone else to haul it to the nearest landfill

and return it to the earth