The Past Lives On
by Ute Carson
New Reader Magazine NRM, Issue 6, Summer 2019

Our grandson bursts into tears
as we dismantle our 18th century armoire
to pass along to the next generation.
"Its spot in your living room will be empty," he laments.
To comfort him we draw his attention to the story the old piece tells.
"It has survived many generations," we begin,
and show him how it is held together
with wooden pegs and iron hinges.
He marvels at the carvings on the doors.
We look for the craftsman’s initials chiseled into the facade
and run our hands over the ornamentation on its lacquered sides.

Many years ago the armoire decorated a parlor
in the baroque castle "Bielwiese" in Silesia.
Until the onset of World War II
generation upon generation was photographed in front of it.
After the war a farsighted relative rescued it,
loading it onto a cart and hauling it to western Germany
from where it later left by ship for America.
It has belonged to us for nearly three decades.
Now it will find a home with one of our daughters.
The youngest generation will assemble in front of it to be photographed.
History is embodied in such artifacts
and holds a place in the family of things.

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