I have collected totems in sixty-two years,
bought a wood and glass cabinet.
Framed in black an All-America certificate,
statuette holds the globe with Who’s Who
written on it, framed the diplomas
which hang on the wall.
These are for him.
For her I saved the abalone shell
with its rose and green mother-of-pearl lining,
her coffee cup and saucer,
a red rose painted on both,
and the word Bonjour spelled out in black.
While they dated my mother worked
at the New York Public Library.
Miniatures of its two white marble lions
(Patience and Fortitude) flank their wedding picture.
Their romance was tested many times.
He smashed a piece of the birthday cake
she bought him in her face. He didn’t like the taste.
He chased her and my little sister in a tractor,
threatening to mow them down.
In a fit of remorse he drove the turquoise
Volkswagen Beetle into the canal. It got stuck
in the sand as I clung to the door handle
smelling the sea,
salt in my mouth,
trying to hold back the progression of madness.
Twenty-one years of marriage
until he fell from a six-foot-high scaffold
down a fifteen-foot hole, breaking his neck.
She cried and cried at the news.
When I handle these symbols
fingertips brush off collected dust.
I look in the window of the wood
and glass cabinet
and close my eyes
on good times and bad.
Ed Krizek holds a BA and MS from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA and MPH from Columbia University. He has published over seventy articles, poems and short stories in various publications, and won prizes in several poetry and short story competitions. Ed’s latest publications are a book of poems titled Swimming With Words and a short story collection titled Memories Lost. You can see more of his work at https://www.edkrizekwriting.com.