Box of blue dishes! How wonderful to remember! The Dutch antique shop on the gracht, whose shaft of opening hall squeezed narrow with overfill. Tall mirrors, lamps with chip painted iron stands. Globby gilded picture frames, art etched mirror, venetian style. Cracked wooden bombe chests. Italian chrome chairs, glass front curios, books in all sorts of languages seeming to describe plots of land. A box suitcase stenciled for use during the war. A flannel scent of must and brass polish silver tarnish, detritus of the ages. The creation and the embodiment of energy, what they’ve invested in, valued, now mingling impossibly here.
High walls punctuated by sad girls standing with dogs in oil. Milky skinned women in stiff dresses and artificial hair. Men sporting feathers in flaccid caps, looking perpetually bewildered but trying to sober up. Afghan hounds. Tons of religious Christian statuary and sketchy depictions of Moselman servants. Botanical prints from the Indies. Disintegrating fabrics on betassled feather pillows, Persian rugs held together by wishful thinking, —as long as there’s a hint of life to them we can imagine our own selves in the luxurious surrounding of homes where people have fewer problems. Seagoing adventures that pan out. Longings and fulfillments. Music bathing the blue flocked wallpaper walls before they lost their heads. Silk festooned pulpits before they were carted off to the gallows shouting for the mercy of the Lord. A summer meadow, where it was impossible to do anything but picnic or idly shoot pheasants, woven in with gold thread.
Catch a glimpse at oneself in the beveled mirror, though, and oh, boy! you are snapped back to reality. Your noble blood drains beneath the acrylic scarf you bought next door because one can no longer bring a steamer trunk of gowns on these jets. A glance at one’s hair reveals the scant two minutes of preparation given it. Your sunglasses are not nearly the jeweled hair brooches you anticipated. Ray-Bans. A camera in one’s bag will carry home the treasure you can’t afford. You’ll put the gothic stone towers and crow stepped gables into a box of digits, slice the information and disperse it color enhanced, cropped for effect. I was here, they say, look what those folk used to do. Used to build from stone. Used to sweep with brooms made of reeds. Used to warm their beds with actual fire and coal. Used to use people up for what they could pound out, their poverty spit as a rind in the street. Used to tout the latest pinnacle in medical discovery -like leeches!- turn the foreign heads with feats of an alchemical war. Yes, our grunting exploits in gold leaf priced to sell.