It’s March in Western Washington,
and the forecast still shows 46 degrees
but I know spring is coming.
Lately I’ve noticed red buds
at the tips of the tree branches
in front of our house;
birds huddled in groups
in grassy fields and leafless trees,
swapping stories of their winter travels;
and the sun lingering a little more
with each evening sky.
And inside, I’ve been cleaning house,
choosing what stays and goes.
These cookbooks I took years ago
from my grandmother’s house,
but they really could have come from
a used bookstore: they do not contain
her handwriting, or any meals I can recall
her making, or any recipes I’ve tried myself.
These can go.
These aprons I never wear, but seemed
like the kind of thing a married woman,
and mother, ought to have in her kitchen.
Instead of the colorful, handmade ones
I’ve received over the years from family,
the one I hold onto is black, from Plum Market,
where I worked as a cashier the year
we were engaged.
Some objects are easy to toss,
too broken, too dirty, or too old to keep around:
a green body pillow from college,
the cheap floor lamp that always leaned,
two high-chair feeding seats,
the stroller I backed over one day and bent,
bibs with stains that never came out.
We’ve been married almost eight years now
and moved seven times, carrying with us
the same taped-up boxes and plastic tubs,
some we haven’t opened for years: their contents
have long been forgotten.
I didn’t even notice I’d also brought with me,
unchanged by time or distance, the memories
of my first love.
And now I’ve unpacked them
and need to decide where they go,
because they can’t stay.
There is no shelf suitable for display,
and even the closet or garage
feels too close.
But how is one ever ready to toss those moments
away, alongside the old bank statements
and magazines and clothes that don’t fit?
For now, I let my hands close around this one:
It’s January, twenty-degrees and snowy
in a small college town in Indiana
where I lay beside him in the dark quiet hours,
my head on his chest, his arm holding
me close, finding warmth in each other,
Before there was any need for spring.
Katherine (Kat) Van Eddy is a California-born poet living in Orting, Washington with her husband, two young children and a cat. She earned a BA in creative writing and an MAT in elementary education. Her poems have appeared in Crosscurrents (University of Puget Sound) and she won the 2004 Nixeon-Civille Handy Poetry Award. She taught for three years before staying home to raise her kids. She also works part-time at the YMCA, is a consultant with Usborne Books and is training as a distance runner.