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A Question of Thirteen SecondsTo Richard Fein's previous piece     One Night StandTo Richard Fein's next piece

Estate Appraisal

The landlord can keep the deposit, one long-ago check 
out of seven-hundred-twenty monthly checks. 
Next month no more checks, 
and all traces of their having lived here will be swept away. 
But I'm not cleaning; let him keep the few bucks 
and push his own broom. 
No Tiffany lamps, no Victorian chairs, 
nothing remotely art deco, 
everything faded, everything dusty, 
everything so ordinary as to be only chintzy.   
No auction is needed, no antique dealer need appraise, 
I wonder if even my memories are secondhand. 
The camera in the closet still has film in it. 
The snapshot number is twelve. 
It's a fifties Kodak but like everything else here, 
too common to be dear. 
Fifty years later at the lease's end, 
I'm alone in this  apartment. 
I've  bagged some useful junk and whatever memories. 
I'm eager to exit, overdue to leave. 
My brothers and sisters might be smiling, 
and my parents forever arm and arm, 
all inside a budget camera a generation and a half old. 
But along the ancient film everything must be blank, 
or brittle to the point of dust, 
for nothing inside was ever developed. 

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