Paula Reed Nancarrow
The Archivist’s Dilemma
I promised to be the family archivist.
When in doubt, send it along
I said to my sister, readying
our parents’ house for sale.
Now in my apartment living
room I take my coffee
among the coffers of the dead:
letters, ledgers, photo albums.
Not everyone here is family or
even wants to be archived.
This morning I find my father’s
first class, labeled in neat white ink:
4th Grade, Picture Rocks, PA 1950-1951
They were lined up in three rows
on the carpet of black paper
clutching their arrowhead corners
still waiting to be dismissed.
Paula Reed Nancarrow is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net-nominee, as well as a past winner of the Sixfold Poetry Prize. Recent poems have appeared in The Madrigal, Plainsongs, and The Southern Review. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Find her online at paulareednancarrow.com.