Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Curiosity Shop

The little bell tinkles knowingly
Ushering her out of cold rain and heavy thoughts
Into another world
A grandmother’s attic
A collector’s back room
A museum of dreams
Formal faces without names
And needlework by hands long gone
The stacks and shelves make alleys
And it seems she could lose herself
Like Alice among the teacups and books
The picture frames and bits of lace
Old advertisements with wildly grinning girls
A hundred or more salt and pepper shakers
Must dance, she thinks, in their odd perfect pairs
When the lights are out and night falls
On the belt buckles and license plates
The dozens of mirrors – etched and indigo and crystal clear –
And the small stuffed fawn
An Indian head glares down from a wooden tray
Half obscured by a Victorian parasol
And fans blow old wedding veils
Like a mist across a milk crate of worn Teddy bears
And another of LPS and colorfully creepy medical prints
She giggles over a giant fork and spoon
Then gasps as, turning, she is
Confronted by a legless armless mannequin
In a jaunty hat
This palace of wonders is full of secrets
Small vials of dark unknown things
A pile of bronzed first shoes
No longer wanted
She is caught for a time by a photo
A smiling group in a sepia garden
With one young man looking, not out,
But to the side of the frame
His expression mixed
His subject, like so many other stories here
But resurrected in her imagination