for Reuben

When he looks at the edges,
The covers of books and records,
He remembers when and where
He got them, how it felt.
Everything’s a testament
To life lived on the fringe
Of some sense of sanity.

All the vehicles for imbibing
These treasures are obsolete.
Even his eyes and ears, as their
Function fades under each year’s
Mud and tussle to stay alive

The damned fine few who know
Try not to lose the memories,
Talk as if each was there
For the other, laughter supplants tears.
If he can, a story gets written
About each song, how a chord
A lyric, the last line of a book

Make more sense, the same as the
Warnings his mother threw
at fledgling feet like seeds in soil.
He wishes he could buy them all again,
Heed the messages, grow as if
Each signpost was a vitamin
Make what became a recollection
A catalyst for pathfinding and strength.

Copyright © 2022 by Brandon D. Johnson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 17, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.