Seventy years old, the scrapbook
is in surprisingly good condition, filled
with yellowed news clippings, each
carefully cut, trimmed, pasted into place,
clipping from two newspapers, back
in the time when two newspapers
per town was the rule, when the news
was more yellowed than the clippings
Each clipping, the one from the Journal
and the same story from the Times,
is about fire, a fire, a specific fire, scores
of yellowed clippings about fires, scores
of fires that burned orange red and yellow,
yellow like the clippings they’d become.
The scrapbook and its contents at first
a mystery, a puzzle, until a memory
yellowed in time surfaces, a memory
of the time before I knew him, the time
before I was, the time he was both
a newspaperman and a firefighter,
one calling supplementing the income
of the other.
The yellowed clippings chronicle both,
the fires and the news, and had to be kept
or burned when memory failed.
Photograph by Society of American Archivists, Manuscript Repository Newsletter.