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I Will Keep Broken Things

Alice Walker wrote what appears to be a long poem, but it is a musing we undertake daily, sometimes without knowing. What are we discarding? It could be, as she recites, we look at material belongings in our house. It could be, as she concludes, the spiritual and hidden phenomena make us who we are.

We are damaged goods, but it is our imperfections that make us perfectly who we are. We look at things in our houses, which to others seem damaged, and we recall stories behind and under the surface. The stories underneath, never fully tellable, reveal themselves in their incompleteness. Each story is sharable to some extent, but it is always our story. Like a tree, the story is revealed in the inner circles and, then, incompletely. In the end, the imperfections that make us perfectly who we are we keep because they enhance our beauty from within.

I will keep
Broken
Things:
The big clay
Pot
With raised
Iguanas
Chasing
Their
Tails;
Two
Of their
Wise

Heads
Sheared
Off;

I will keep
Broken
things:
The old
Slave
Market
Basket
Brought
To my
Door

By Mississippi
A jagged
Hole
Gouged
In its sturdy
Dark
Oak
Side.

I will keep
Broken
things:
The memory
Of
Those
Long
Delicious
Night
Swims
With
You;

I will keep
Broken
things:
In my house
There
Remains
An

Honored
Shelf
On which
I will
Keep
Broken
Things.

Their beauty
Is
They
Need
Not
Ever
Be
‘fixed.’

I will keep
Your
Wild
Free
Laughter
Though
It is now
Missing
Its
Reassuring
And
Graceful
Hinge.

I will keep
Broken
Things:

Thank you
So much!

I will keep
Broken
Things.

I will keep
You:

Pilgrim
Of
Sorrow.

I will keep
Myself.

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

28 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    EXCEPT IN OUR APARTMENT HOUSE…NO MATTER HOW MEANINGFUL !!!!

    Reply
  2. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    Her musing was lovely – and how very true of each of us. A few feet from me are such things: a dipper with holes worn through that belonged to my grandparents when they married, a folk art Abraham Lincoln that my daughter made in middle school that the teacher accused her having her father make, a Native American hammer stone a beloved cousin gave me and the list goes on. These things – small bits and pieces of history – do make us who we are.

    Lovely post!

    Reply
    • Thank you Jackie. We are similar to you in our house with things here and there with their stories. I have stuffed bear hand-made by my grandmother. Many years ago, he was attacked by one of our dogs leaving him damaged. Kathy sewed an eye-patch on and the pirate bear keeps watch over our room 30 years later.

      Reply
  3. I will keep broken things…

    Reply
  4. Very profound! There are so many things that mean so much to us and we keep them dear and you drive your message/point home when you say, “I will keep myself”. well said!

    Reply
  5. perfect with valuable facts!!

    Reply
  6. I read this once before, quite some time ago, and loved it. I love it even more the second time around.

    Reply
  7. It’s beautiful. I have always loved imperfect things, faces, people. And yes, I find it so difficult to part with broken things. Now I know why. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  8. Perhaps damaged, like perfect, is a perception based on our frame of reference. Interesting, Ivon. Thanks! xoxoM

    Reply
  9. I love Alice Walker and her work. This is a very good poem. Nice you shared it with us. Hugs, Barbara

    Reply
  10. The sweetest thing about old broken things are the memories they keep safe within.

    Reply
  11. Fantastic, and I do get the two meanings in all of this, the literal and metaphorical.

    Reply

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