My Attic is Full


It’s time to try something new on my blog now that I’ve reached the one year anniversary. I’m adding an audio version of this poem, “My Attic is Full.”



This week’s poem was written in 2011 for a friend I worked/taught with, Jean Sotelo Coene. Somehow we got to talking about cleaning attics and about all the treasures hidden up there and how hard it was to part with things. Jean mentioned her grandmother’s handbag and all the stories it held and that was it…a tiny seed of a poem was planted. I don’t know how those things come to be while others never take hold. I wrote the poem and gave it to Jean as a little present. I love to gift poems to just one person. For that reason, no one has read the poem except for each of us.

Today I was going through some lovely photos from a trip to Cornwall in 2013. [See Bedford Square +2, my travel blog for the whole story of that visit if interested.] We had visited a small manor house, Lanhydrock. [] Part of our wanderings allowed access to the attic. Of course it was beautifully staged as were all the rooms in the house, but seeing these pictures this morning was too hard to resist. I worked on the poem today, changing words here and there, adding in a whole stanza and then deleting it. In the end, I liked the first version best. Only a few words are different from the one I handed to Jean.

This poem is dedicated to the memories of all grandmothers who gave us so many wonderful stories to listen to, to dream about, and to share.

To hear the audio, simply click below. I am not much of a professional reader so please bear with me.



My Attic is Full

The attic needs cleaning. It seems so simple,
but it isn’t easy to throw old things away.
There is always the worry we might forget
those we loved, the ones crossed over.

Old boxes hold memories and clothing.
Do you hear the stories held in the silence?
A flowery print dress of soft lawn cotton
holds the story of when it was freshly laundered
and worn in the days of the mid-summer sun.

An old leather purse might tell you where
she went and what she wore.
Inside, a handkerchief delicately edged
in tatted lace is tucked away.

How often she must have clutched it
in her hand to wipe away tears or sneezes,
stifle laughter or mop her brow.
Even now the linen is redolent of old
damask roses from the flower garden.

Beyond the piled boxes of her belongings
are clothes from her husband so long mourned.
She kept them up here all those years,
the only way to keep him near.

Don’t you wonder how often she came up
into this dark attic, pulled the light string,
unfolded a crisp white shirt
and held it to her nose, eyes tightly closed
longing for the scent
that had faded from his pillow?

Lovely tatted edging-22maids-of-honor22-by-mary-konior.jpg

Lovely tatted edging-22maids-of-honor22-by-mary-konior.jpg

23 thoughts on “My Attic is Full

  1. Mary, this is wonderful. The long list of descriptive contents was so well done, on its own–I’ve been doing lots of clearing out closets myself this summer, and it was as if you were looking over my shoulder. But then–that last stanza. That is so good. What a great image in words. I can see her standing there, missing him.

    And hearing your voice while I read along added a lovely layer to the whole poem. Well done.

    On a totally different note, besides my own summer cleaning this poem also made me think of a haunting fantasy story by Kelly Link about a grandmother’s purse. I noodled around and found the text of the story online. It’s called The Faery Handbag. Takes a totally different direction than your poem, but somehow one reminded me of the other–

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Listen Up! Audio Comes to A Poet in Time | A Poet in Time

  3. This is a wonderful idea Mary, and listening to you recite as I read the words seemed really to bring the work to life – an excellent combination. I often wonder quite how the poet intends their work to be read, as it isn’t always apparent from the line structure and punctuation. This worked beautifully, as befitted the work itself. Many congratulations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting thoughts, Hariod. In reading this aloud, I realized I was breaking some lines before the end and my phrasing was a bit different from what I had written. Normally I read a poem out loud many times as I write. Not sure if I was tired since it was nearly midnight or what. Still, I’m glad you enjoyed this addition of audio. I’ve always liked listening to how a poet reads…it’s often different from how I read his/her poem and that makes it worth reading again. Your thoughtful comments are always deeply appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

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