by Tim Gilmore, 2/20/2015
On a back aisle of the Five Points antique store called Fans & Stoves, I find a lovely book by Michaela Tashjian that includes a poem called “Fans & Stoves” and listen to a George Shearing cover of “Autumn in New York” in Jacksonville, Florida.
I leaf through stacks of ephemera—letterheads never written on, commemorative matchbooks, 1950s’ roadmaps.
For a little while I hold the blank check of a defunct bank in my hands and wonder what would happen if I filled it out to buy the olivewood Virgin Mary that you can wind up to play Schubert’s Ave Maria.
There’s a stack of library cards from the 1960s and ’70s—the kind with the metal plate. In February 2015, I’d like to wander into the Willowbranch Library and try to check out a half dozen books on suicide prevention with a card that won’t expire until October 1969.
I pry through clumps of yellowed microscope slides in a King Edward cigar box. I’m mildly afraid I may catch some rare illness leaking off them.
I skim a bound dissertation from some forgotten doctoral candidate, Toward the Death and Flowering of Transcendentalism in Walt Whitman it’s called, and wonder if I might plagiarize it, present it as my own.
In a wooden cylinder stuffed with yellowed nametags, I find the handwriting of dead bank executives, a mayor, a long-dead novelist of medical thrillers. Then the autograph of one of the great Civil Rights and humanitarian leaders of the South appears on a circular nametag between “HELLO! MY NAME IS” and “WHAT’S YOURS?” and I wish I could try her name on as my own.
Beneath a warped oak card cabinet stuffed with citrus crate labels, whiskey labels, spice labels, and preserved tattooed skins, a hairless dog chews the stuffing from the enormous pillow beneath him.