After Irma

We all have ways of hoarding our lives,
Of clutching our days and saving our time.
We tell tales to strangers to scatter our wealth,
Scribble on pages as a trust against death.

We meet someone new, and divest our thoughts;
Deposit our lives so they cannot be lost.
If one offers interest, we go on for days,
If no credit is put forth, withdraw in a haze.

Black lines and grey vows on white slips we write;
No checks of truth needed, for no one signs lies.
Security's our hope, our passion, our vice;
But our debt proves too vast to cut overnight.

Ralph Scott Granneman
20 July 92, Philadelphia

I was taking a 6-week course in Philadelphia about Samuel Johnson and Boswell's autobiography. Irma Lustig, the instructor, was talking about different ways people create autobiographies when she remarked that "We all have ways of hoarding our lives". That struck me as a beautiful phrase, so I used it as the first line of a poem that I wrote that night as I dined alone. Hence the title … since the first line is pure Irma, the rest of the poem is after Irma.

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