it is the sixth day of sun and blue skies we’ve seen since thanksgiving, so we do the only thing that makes sense: we leave. we trek to a nearby town in search of an air purifier – that was our official excuse – and after spending, oh i don’t know, maybe two minutes on that search, we walk up and down main street, ducking in the human society thrift shop – where i found two national geographic magazines i can’t live another day without – then on down to one of the many antique shops on the square.
we see christening dresses, white gloves, a colonial war metal warming plate. we see a small perfume bottle in a sterling silver case that snaps closed with a definitive click. we see an entire cabinet full of keys . . . alas, but no roller skate key. if the woman who talks to herself is to be believed, we see a bible box and an ice cream plate. she begins to talk to me, generously sharing with me news of the best deal around: a mining spot in cherokee, n.c. where you buy a bucket for $13 and set to mining. she went there not long ago, and having decided to hold onto the smaller stones in their natural state, she is heading back over tomorrow to pick up her 3 carat emerald that’s being cut. the man doing the cutting reckons that one stone alone is worth $3,000.00 to $4,000.00, and she wonders how on earth they can make money with buckets costing only $13 each, but soon enough she answers her own question: they own the mining rights AND they get paid to cut and set the stones. she doesn’t think she’s tall enough to pull off wearing a four carat emerald, so she’s fine with the smaller three carat stone.
when she picks up her cut stone, she’ll pay for two or three more of those $13 buckets, hoping to raise enough money to purchase the ten acres on the market for $10,000. it’s uncleared land, but she figures she will sell the stones to pay for the clearing of five acres which she’ll then sell and use the proceeds from that sale to clear the other five acres and have clarence come put her a trailer there where she’ll live happily ever after.
spying the glass-front filled with jars and bags of marbles, the young mesmerized boy says pointedly, “dad, do you realize i don’t have any marbles?”
“oh you have some marbles,” his dad says, distracted with the boxes filled with hinges and door knobs and such he’s rifling through “you’ve just lost them.”
we see a naked baby doll that’s much the worse for wear, her skin all cracked and peeling, one eye permanently closed in a wink, her smile faded but still radiant. i want to bring her home and love her.
a smaller doll lies in the box with her, a doll so small you can hold her in the palm of one hand. her tag says “porcelain doll missing,” and sure enough both feet, one hand, and one arm up to the elbow have been amputated. i don’t know how to fix her, so i hug her, lay her back down, and wish her well.
as i stitch the evening away and as the scraps of fabric find their way together into a new cloth, these lines by nikki giovanni comes to dance in the eye of my needle:
When I am frayed and strained and drizzle at the end
Please someone cut a square and put me in a quilt
That I might keep some child warm
And some old person with no one else to talk to
Will hear my whispers.