Five feet tall, forty years old,

a steel witness to a life

no more.

 

I open the four drawers

and pull out the files.

Some slim and clean, others

heavy, showing their age.

They store happy memories

of travel around the world,

celebrations of birthdays,

and anniversaries,

the joy of remodeling the house,

receipts for various acquisitions,

utility bills and bank statements,

family history, and photo albums.

 

My hands are trembling, my heart

beats hard, my eyes wet.

 

The shredder stands at my feet,

waiting to swallow this precious load.

I hear its motor running,

but my hands don’t move.

They listen to my heart,

not to the sound of the machine.

 

At last I gather my strength

and begin to push the papers, one

by one, watching those wonderful

years shredding away.

Only the photos are spared.

I open an album and see a

snapshot of our visit to Pisa.

Like the famous Tower,

my life is tilted now, waiting to tumble.

I am reminded that once

upon a time, I had another life.