EARTHQUAKE DOLLHOUSE AND OTHER TREASURES UNDERFOOT

by Lisa

Treasure crunches under your feet.  Look.

Where do you walk?  Do you look down?  Or do you just move forward, feeling time pass, feeling slower than you might like to be?

The Doctor wished for a bike on Mars.  I want to slow down and pick up pebbles.

Tonight, I walked to the port and skirted the edge of what used to be the river.  The river moved and left behind a bay, long and narrow, forked at its end by a v of marsh.  The real river shifted west just a bit, and though I very much wish I had a boat to reach the strip of trees that now makes the bay–a kayak would be nice–I was content with my inspection of the edge of the bay.  There on the edge of the used-to-be-river, I found treasure.

A water bird’s scapula, sandy and damp but bleached bare.

A snail shell, white with lovely caramel striations.

A rusted, flattened nut.

A big stick, which might be handy for future explorations, even though I have a perfectly good one at home, and so does the daughter.

A tiny rock, all crystals, and a bigger rock, with a face of crystals.  I might have stepped on geodes, but I don’t know how to see them yet.

Some things stayed.  I took photographs of a failed attempt at a swastika on the sea wall and other mysterious combinations of letters and numbers and shapes that must mean something to river-going people.  A little boy made of cellophane stayed.  He would have just crumbled in my pocked full of stones and bone…

In this place, things fall down and no one picks them up again.  The back of a beautiful white-painted brick house fell off, and now the rooms look like washed-out dollhouse rooms, from the river.  Closer, the house fascinates and terrifies and makes me want to rewind to before its falling.  Eras of interior decoration show in the peeled wallpaper.  The bathroom might have been pink once, if that really was the bathroom.  Roses bloom in a ground-floor room, and swirls of mint green fade in another.  Dining room and kitchen? The fireplace is another hole within a hole.  The ceilings show their innards: thick boards laid with thinner ones, plastered and tiled underneath, holes where lights once hung.  Corrugated cardboard boxes now, drooping, waiting by the curb.

I might steal a brick.

The back yard is thick with young trees and spring bulbs.  The trees have taken advantage of the brickfall, but the bulbs ignore it.

I lifted four small iris roots from near the sidewalk.  I’ll take them home and plant them in a pot, and maybe I will see what color the lady of house liked her irises to be.  We all have strong opinions about irises, yes?  If they are yellow, she was practical and neat.  Purple, and she was prone to wearing unlikely hats.  Pink, and she cut the crusts off her sandwiches as a matter of course.

This place has secrets, and no one is telling.  That’s fine.  I’ll pick up the treasures from under my feet and write stories of my own.

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(I didn’t steal a brick after all.)

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