My father was not someone who held onto things. He didn’t seem to instill them with much personal meaning and saw himself surrounded only with the new, the unblemished. When my mother died, he gave away all her things within weeks, perhaps trying to sweep away the pain.

I’m terrible at getting rid of things. Boxes of old books crowd under my bed, clothes I will never wear again stuff my closet. I have shoes I haven’t worn in years, photographs of students whose names I have forgotten, shelves with board games no longer played, a slow cooker, pots and pans, boxes with pages of writing before the days of computers, a Christmas tree stand (though I haven’t had a tree for years). I keep all these things for two reasons: sentimental value or because I think I might need them someday. (I did use the slow cooker last month.)

My husband is even more of a hoarder than I am. His items range from car parts to old engines, from beeswax candles to books on archeology, to zippers, velcro, and window latches. Boxes of his belongings line our basement and attic. Things he may need someday or that he could sell if only I’d take the time to photograph them and put them on Craigslist or eBay.

And then of course we die and leave all this behind — the flotsam and jetsam of a full life, a burden for someone else to deal with. Perhaps some of it will have meaning. But what we leave behind that tends to have more meaning are the memories people have of us, the care we’ve given them.

I think of this as I read Karie Friedman’s poem, “Cleaning the Shed.” Karie used to keep the key to her house hidden in her shed among old canning jars and clothespins. I know this because when she was in the hospital before she died, she sent me to get a few important things for her — her phone, her laptop, her glasses, and a book she was reading that she would never finish.

What Karie left of value are her poems and the memories people have of her. She was an intelligent, thoughtful poet, a caring friend, and a welcoming hostess. She always had flowers on her table and a basket of teas that she offered visitors. She loved jazz and she and I would go out together to listen to local groups.

Karie’s death was fairly sudden and unexpected. It’s been five years since she died, but she’s still remembered fondly by local poets, especially those who were part of her critique group, The Poets Table. We will be gathering at Belfast Free Library on Sunday, Sept. 11, at 2 p.m., to share poems and memories of Karie. You can read more about Karie and the event here: waldo.villagesoup.com/2022/09/01/memorial-poetry-reading-celebrates-friedman/.

I hope you enjoy the following poem by Karie Friedman and can join us on Sept. 11.

Cleaning the Shed

Whoever saved these crumpled inner tubes

to bear up a flotilla of freckled kids

in rubbery fragrance couldn’t foresee a time

they’d be unwanted. Or these bottles of nameless

potions: plant food? linseed oil? Wrapped

in a gauze of spider webs, they’ve outlasted

those who put them by. This is a cave

where objects laid to rest may find new life,

or not — racks from long gone ovens, stacks

of nested strawberry boxes bearing sweet

red stains, chains from bicycles now defunct.

I come to evict them all and claim the space.

My thrifty forerunners, you who sawed

broom handles off to save as dowels,

soaked the labels from scores of baby food jars,

your spirits have no use for old attachments.

Make room for my quart of nails and for

the first of many offerings — license plates,

gutter hangers bound in a bouquet,

the broken lamp I mean to fix someday.

Judy Kaber is Belfast’s poet laureate.