Marybeth Niederkorn

The Falling Out

It started slowly, one person at a time cleaning
out our parents’ homes, condos, apartments, nursing
home rooms, finding half-broken plastic pieces
to machines that never worked half right, albums
almost empty of photos, torn blankets, box after
box of craft supplies and sewing notions that hadn’t
been touched since Bonanza. It started to sink in,
that STUFF had encroached for years around our lives’
edges, that none of the siblings and grandchildren
wanted the rubber toys Uncle Jim had chewed on
in 1956.

And our fresh eyes looked at every holiday gift grabbed
in an attempt to staunch bleeding in a relationship
deflating from every phone call not answered, every
lunch not eaten together, every empty space between
people we were supposed to love.

Fresh eyes saw our STUFF for what it was, and we
fell out of love with it.

And those same eyes grew damp, decided to end
the cycle of buying STUFF and having STUFF and
just never getting rid of STUFF until it was filling
table after table after table in Grandma’s living room,
sewing room, garage, kitchen, storage, basement, rec
room. Because no one wants that STUFF. Everyone
has our own STUFF.

So began the weekly trips to the clutter dumpster, out to
the thrift shops so we could feel like we were making
things better for someone else, either through profit
donated to worthy causes, or someone else getting good
use out of the STUFF that lined our closets for decades
before being pulled out and exposed to the light of cold

But then, it’s Christmas again.


Marybeth Niederkorn is an award-winning journalist, essayist, and author. Educated at Southeast Missouri State University, she holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in professional writing, but tries not to be a jerk about it. She lives in Missouri with her awesome husband, Dave, and their two obstreperous cats. Her full-length poetry collection, “Times Knew Roamin’,” is forthcoming from Spartan Press.