Atop ragged-edged scratch paper
I write “Mon.”
and under this copy
Sun.’s uncrossed-off items:
“buy birdseed,”
“b-day e-card to Adele,”
“call re: basement leak,”
“bring ashes to cemetery,”
for instance

I notice one task on the Sunday list
(“Pour boiling H2O down drains”)
that I did but forgot to cross off,
so I scratch it out now.
Then I remember: this morning
I polished my black shoes–
though this wasn’t on the list–
so I write “polish shoes”
then draw a line through it.

Creating and destroying lists
brings a certain sense of satisfaction,
and of futility.
My friend, a psychologist,
(who witnessed my list-making habits on overdrive
when she visited during my eight-day hospice vigil),
said, “List-making gives the illusion of control.”

Onto the Mon. list I copy “Start exercising,”
an item that first appeared in May, 2002,
and ever since has been transferred daily.
I’ve never had the pleasure
of scratching it off,
but its presence on repeated lists underscores
the sincerity of my determination to do it
soon.

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