My Address Book

Below is a piece written a few years back, now more apropos than ever. Some of those I knew were taken by old age, others from disease, still others by their own choice. I cannot erase their names.

My Address Book

One by one
it fills with the dead.

Their names written
in grey penciled lines,
telephone numbers beneath
now belonging
to someone else,

Easily erased, yet….
if removed, might disappear
completely into the forgotten,
this disparate group who
wandered through my life.

Most added by happenstance,
they gather on these pages,
lining up alphabetically
leaving in no particular order,
abandoning me to life.

So I keep them
etched onto paper,
momentarily reminding me
of time spent together,
as I search for an address.

Here they linger, not as ghosts,
but notations of lives once known;
a good friend who left too soon,
a relative I did not visit often enough,
or a neighbor from years before.

Eventually none will be left.
Exiting through this journal,
leaving a trace of records
that no longer matter
with names no one will remember.