Anecdote of a Door

First published in Spring: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society, #23, Fall 2020 [actually December 2021], pages 120–121. Originally written in August of 2006. Thanks to Jack Foley for his suggestions to improve this poem.   +

I have left my door a jar.

I had thought to leave it my entire estate,

but, according to my doctor, I’m not yet dead,

so I’ve left it a jar.

It’s medium-sized and made of a cheap glass

that used to hold pickles,

or maybe marmalade.

The label’s been removed,

the glue washed off,

and now the jar sparkles in the sun

with enough happy abandonment

to please any of its former pickles

—or maybe the marmalade, as the case may be.


The door is indifferent to my bequest.

Thanks to the jar, it stands open,

but would be equally ecstatic, in its droll, door-like way,

to swing shut or be shut.

Doors are like that, and open or close

without judgment or delay,

unless of course they are held open

by a dead ficus or a corpse,

or just a jar.


This particular door leads

from my kitchen to the yard,

where a small stoop overlooks

a patch of Tennessee dirt and weeds that someone else might turn

into a garden.

I have neglected it,

but my door, though wholly unappreciative,

does have a jar of its very own.


While my door gives no thought to its jar,

it is fully its owner.

Sometimes the door leans up against it,

or a passing gust bangs the door from the jar

and curls cool air into the kitchen.

Often the door pushes the jar aside and closes for the night,

keeping out the cool.

Mostly, I don’t care what the door wants to do with its jar,

but it would sadden me if it broke.

As much as I adore the door,

I don’t like pickles, or marmalade,

and don’t want to have to go through

another jar.


So far,

neither the door nor I have come unhinged.