Bits of String

Music & Lyrics: Marie-Lynn Hammond

I was only the neighbour, I barely knew her
fifty years of living with the curtains drawn
after she died they went through her things
in one moment all her secrecy gone

the auctioneer leads me through overstuffed rooms
crammed ceiling to floor with antiques and junk
the kind of packrat hoardings that he’s seen before
in box and bag and trunk

but here in the kitchen something stops him dead
here is what finally makes him shake his head
an old biscuit tin with a hand-lettered label
that he holds out for me to peruse
and it says “bits of string too short to use”
bits of string too short to use

oh what shadows must have haunted her fragile dreams
what demons of fear, what wolf at the door
howling “Waste not want not, fill up all the spaces”
till there’s no room to want any more

for sure enough when I lift up the rusty lid
brief little circles of cord and twine
what makes someone hold on to their everything
what makes me hold on to mine?

oh I thought we were different as day and night
I could have sworn I was travelling light
but see what I’m trailing, seems that lifelines and shackles
are easy to confuse
bits of string too short to use
bits of string too short to use

and these lives that we live full of hurting and passion
the blood and the battles, the rapture and lust
yet it’s the stones that contain them remain in the end
while we crumble to handfuls of dust

but oh how we hunger for something to last,
to conjure up gold from the murk of the past
but so often we’re left bearing nothing but scars
or these fragments and shards from the muse

they’re only bits of string too short to use
bits of string too short to use