I sweep down the Franklin stove
with a small brush I have had for years,
despite the fact that I am sick.
Returning the stones to their place
on the top,
a round river rock from the Ensenada
beach where my sister received
snake venom in the hopes of cure,
a rectangular stone from the beach
when we lived together in Carmel,
and an odd-shaped rock
with a hole in the middle
that I used to wear
on a rawhide cord
around my neck.
And finally a sea-carved stone
from the La Jolla Shores,
its miniature tide pools
like the caves along the shore.

I place these treasures
on the spot I have just cleaned,
the altar of the stove,
and bring the abalone shell
forward in order to burn sage,
an inappropriate vessel I’ve been told
because it represents water not earth
in Native American lore.

I think of tide pools
I have peered into,
sea anemones I have poked
with my toe,
and contemplate again
that there are too many
objects in my life,
too many things I don’t love
that have been allowed
to creep in.
I look about the living room,
assessing what to set free.
I seem to have reached
my quota of treasures early.
I prefer to think it is that,
and not that I have lost
my capacity to love.

Life is not as clean and simple
as we’d like it to be,
I want to ask people to not
give me any more things.
I’d like experience instead.
Whatever we own
we have to clean,
why do I keep forgetting that?
Sweeping down the Franklin
I remember.