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Liz Rosenberg

Packing Her Things

And I could nearly stand it—the stained blouses;
the nubs of drying lipsticks with their botched nose jobs;
the undershirts; the bras; the slips; the books.
I packed them away, like a dutiful child.
I did it dry-eyed, thinking, I could spend a day like this
in hell, and then at the back of the closet
I found her cache of gift bags—pretty foil bags;
tiny starred ones; slick big bags with cabbage roses—
the way we both squirrel them away. I never knew,
the way I cried when I saw her paintings for the first time,
or her secret collection of beaded purses.
Which part of the soul is handed down? Which part is its own?
Then I sank down on the bed and howled.
I wept like an orphaned child.

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Liz Rosenberg is the author of the novel Home Repair and five books of poems, most recently The Lily Poems from Bright Hills Press and Demon Love from Mammoth. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review and elsewhere. She teaches English at the State U of NY at Binghamton.