Executive Decisions

My mother burnt her diaries.
Autumn had come, or spring.
At 80, she stood up for the future,
and exercised her rights upon the past.

All pencils saved,
each simple record made its sacrifice.
Flames took them,
week by week,
until her exit unencumbered,
and all entrances sealed up,
she was alone at last.
No prying biographer,
or curious, late-orphaned son
to put her life together again.

Larkin, younger,
and with a different end in mind,
thought much the  same,
but his were shredded from beyond the grave.
The poet parting company from the man.
25 volumes kept from 16 years,
And one final woman posthumously employed
to compost the rank, malodorous stuff
he grew his fame in.

I see them now,
the personal, the literary things,
the lives sloughed off like skin.
Give it all away to fire.
Keep not a scrap until the end.
No point in hanging on.
A pile of ash.
A heap of ticker tape like straw.
That’s all.

Chester 12.10.90

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