CommunitydownsizingEventsKeeping Memoriesstories March 21, 2011

Poetic Downsizing

It’s been a whirlwind of activity with four pending sales in one week, which is fantastic but also exhausting. A trip to my beach house was exactly what I needed. Some downtime. A day or two to rest. Thinking that my weekend would be a rainy one, I had plans to do some creative projects around the house.  I was going to do this to my bathroom…don’t you love the vintage maps as wallpaper?

image via here

But…I never got around to this project because, lo and behold – THE SUN CAME OUT! When the sun is out in Manzanita you have to get out and enjoy it and we did just that!

With a busy job and bustling social life, the only pleasure reading I really get to do consists of short stories and poetry. Bite-size nuggets of literary goodness.

So…how perfect is it that the Hoffman Center was having a Poetry Fest!?  Without hesistation, I headed down to attend.

Four poets were spotlighted : Oregon’s own Poet Laureate –Paulann Petersen, Margaret Chula, Carlos Reyes and Penelope Scambly Schott.

image via here

All the poets were inspiring and listening to them read their work truly made it come to life, offering a personal insight to their prose. Carlos Reyes’ work struck me and I purchased his book – “The Book of Shadows“. He signed it for me too!

One poem, in particular got me thinking and brought me back to the focus of my career -Downsizing.

This poem truly speaks to the job of clearing out our belongings – our past, our memories – and the inevitable nostalgia and emotion that accompanies the task. Enjoy…


by Carlos Reyes


Each piece of paper

each leaf each

breath left


or scent inhaled

from a piece of clothing

in a green and yellow box

from Brazil that says


“Entrga Urgente”

“Cuidado Fragil” …


I spend the weekend

at estate sales trying

to determine if this

is how we measure


our lives, by what’s left behind

to sell to strangers – the box

marked “free.” Untouched

as though unclean…


In the end does it matter

if the prints of our passing

ends up as rummage?


We sniff the air inside

the garages and houses

of strangers, judge

their lack of taste,

their sentiments.


But when the chattels are our own?

How reluctantly we part

with these traces


This plastic bag,

the scent the piece of clothing

in it carries, we are sure we know it

before we seal it up again

in the carton labeled


“… Urgent” “… Fragile”


That scent a breath

still alive

as we take it briefly

into our lungs.


Pretty amazing right? Can you relate to these words? We’ve all experienced the process of letting go when there is a shift in our lives. Isn’t it funny how easily we can go through the belongings of others at estate sales but when it is our own possessions it’s a whole different story.


p.s. Check out this fantastic Q & A session with Carlos Reyes via the Oregonian.