After Decades

You hate how long I keep an empty
tube of toothpaste, squeeze it beyond
dry for one more evening’s brush.
Or the bottle of ketchup, like my
mother did, balanced atop the new
one, unhealthy pyramid waiting for
a crash just to gather the last possible
drop. Salvage is a way of life, a kind
of thinking long about the smallest

When I leave you, it will
be this holding on, this making do with
tossed away fragments, like the end
of mayonnaise, the clink of knife against
almost clean glass or peanut butter relics
scratched onto toast, how those noises
irritated but will now echo in your mind.
I have finally believed you, see how saving
scraps is too much work.

These final drips of attention,
the leftover love I worked
to preserve, can now be dropped like litter
or tumbled into the garbage truck
one Tuesday morning when lilacs
open and birds call like victims
from the trees. The cartons of time,
stored and protected, now lay abandoned
at the curb when I drive away.

Beth Konkoski is a writer and high school English teacher living in Northern Virginia with her husband and two mostly grown kids.  Wandering in the woods and across the page are two of her favorite activities.  Her work has been published in journals such as: The American Journal of Poetry, Gargoyle, and The Potomac Review.  She has two chapbooks of poetry: Noticing the Splash with BoneWorld Press and Water Shedding with Finishing Line Press and her collection of short fiction, A Drawn and Papered Heart has been shortlisted in multiple contests.