25 August 2013

Beloved Relics from Before the Age of the Net

Big black vinyl platters of music, depth of analog sound, the hearts of those young guys pouring out of old stereo speakers to fill the living room and the valley beyond.

Letters scrawled by hand on lined paper, on the porch, hot summer afternoon, scratch of pen and the crickets fast, faint drone of tractor down the road.

Group poem, typed line by line, old black Royal, fluent tap-tap, sticky O, hard-hit e and f.

Hand-embroidered dresser scarf, blue and purple thread lilacs on white linen, delicate lace of simple crochet stitched around the hem, carefully washed, ironed, laid on wooden dresser for protection and beauty.

Blue and white telephone booth, privacy on city corner, heavy handset, surprise of a dime in the change-return, crud on plastic walls, phone book dangling, PIZZA section torn out.

Plastic coin purses full of pennies and nickels. Wooden cigar boxes full of photos.           

The fat pages of Want Ads, jobs, apartments, cars, pets, garage sales, prayers to Holy St. Jude, all you need to set yourself up in a new city, slick black ink on the fingers.

Eight-year-old girls playing jacks on a bare floor: the ball bounce, the hand grabs one jack, 2, 3, 4, and ever-more-complicated demands of dexterity the girls make neatly.

Fat paperback, yellow pages come apart as they turn, reading Sometimes a Great Notion on a park bench in Wenatchee, penniless.

“I’m just going to run in for a newspaper.”

The big wooden drawers of card catalog where I searched for witches in 1970 and found Salem, English Witch Trials, Psychic Phenomena, African Witch Doctors, Witches in Fiction, and Dr. Faustus.