Lists by Linda Pastan

I made a list of things I have
to remember and a list
of things I want to forget,
but I see they are the same list.
I made a list of items of need:
love and water on one side,
on the other the small flowers
that bloom without scent,
and it is like the grocery lists
my grandmother used to make:
milk and butter–dairy
on one side, meat on the other
as if they shouldn’t mingle
even on the page.
My mother makes lists on tiny
scraps of paper, leaving them
on chairs of the seats of the bus
the way she drops a handkerchief
for someone to find, a clue
a kind of commerce between her
and the world.
And all the time the tree
is making its endless list
of leaves; the sky
is listing its valuables
in rain. My daughter
lists the books she means to read,
and their names are like the exotic
names of birds on my husband’s
life list. Perhaps God
listed what to create
in a week: earth and oceans,
the armature of heaven
with a place to fasten
every star, and finally
Adam who rested a day
then made a list of his own:
starling, deer, and serpent.

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