God help my kids for I’m collecting junk
and I intend to die without sorting worth from worthless.
There’s the usual – books and china, my father’s shoe-care kit;
the odd antique’s been handed down.
There’s forty years of paintings, poems, computer files and paper work.
There’s collections of their baby teeth, god help them.
But the real collection’s harder: beetle bodies, bits of stick,
skulls of birds and skeletons (for instance of a mouse).
There are feathers too, exquisite, from emus, brolgas, ducks.
There’s driftwood and there’s stones from every beach I ever walked
and inland stones as well, from Broome to Oodnadatta.
White, yellow, red and black: there’s even dirt, god help them.
I’ve a basket of crushed grass because it smells like lemon,
pressed seaweed in black zigzagged filigree.
There are fifteen thousand photographs, most of them of bark,
but also lichen, water, spice and rust.
I’ve an artwork made of shells from the bower of a bird –
not ivory but irony, god help them.
But my kids are nutty too – wishing willing
of some crazy treasure. I’ll let them fight it out.
Meanwhile they’re collectors and I’m jealous;
my daughter has a scat from a snake that ate five baby mice.
The evidence is clear. Bad habits never die;
they just get handed on. God help them.
inspired to post this old poem (another ten years of collecting since!) by Suzanne’s post at Art and Life