Things From Far Away
Janet Sleeper Frostad
As a child, I loved to go with my dad to the landfill,
that living, steaming, field of things no longer needed
with its halo of gulls hanging overhead.
Once I dug out a diary over one hundred years old. When I held
it, I wondered how it found its way to my small dirty fingers.
I traced every cursive word which tied me to a girl who died
before I was born. Each of her days began with,
Was a good girl, helped mama.
Later, I lived three years on the island of Shikoku. At The Temple
of the Stone Hand I learned that if I tossed a rock on top
of the torii gate and it stayed, Iíd be favored by fortune.
It was under this portal between the every day and the sacred
that I found a perfect red heart of stone. When I held it
the world swallowed itself like small fish are eaten
by bigger fish. I imagined wish after wish, palm after palm,
tossing that small heart toward heaven.
Once, a friend showed me an old dress, the color of cauliflower,
knit with the dainty stitches of an antique doily. She said it had
been kept in a chest beneath the stairs in her sisterís home
with a set of crystal juice glasses. After a tornado took the house
and the family, only the chest was left, untouched, glasses whole.
As she spoke, her fingers found a dropped stitch in the bodice.
She said she intended to give the dress to my daughter,
then added, Iíll need to fix it before you take it home.
The dress has been forgotten, the dropped stitch left to unravel.
The heart stone sits stilled on my desk, robbed of the warmth
of other hands, the arc of optimism, the click of landing on the torii gate.
The diary was left somewhere in my childhood.