Monday, February 9, 2009

The Collections

Appeared in Swink Magazine, Los Angeles, Issue 2, early 2007.

The Collections

I abandoned collecting magnifying glasses
after I sold them to the president
of the Magnifying Glass Collectors of Wisconsin
whom I met by coincidence on a plane
returning from Grandfather’s funeral.
With the magnifying glasses gone
there was more room
for my shadow collection.
My favorite shadow
is of fire hydrant lying across a sidewalk
tangled in the shadow of a bicycle.
I captured it with Scotch tape,
keep it in a cigar box of its own.
It disappoints me, instead of seeing
the shadow most people only see
a knot of tape. I keep the rest
of the collection, nine shadows
to a box, in a kitchen cupboard.

In my family, men have always been collectors.
Grandfather collected violin strings,
owned one thousand and seven when he passed away.
He bought them from school teachers,
violin repairmen, even from children
who hated practicing while friends did fun things.
And Father, he kept stacks of unused bricks
hushed in the weeds behind a shed.
It took me years to understand
that it wasn’t bricks he collected,
like me he collected the shape of absence,
the missing light, the unbuilt things.

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