So much gone

This is not what you might think. It isn't really about things, about pining for material things.

But you have to wonder: What happened to the table, the handsome oval dining table, its surface lightly embossed by our carelessness with pens in hand ("put something under your homework before you start it!")?

The cane-seated chairs, the creamy tablecloths, the heavy Scandinavian stoneware? (In her prime she was a bit ahead of her time, had a good eye for new design and old things, which makes this sadder than it might be, though it was bound to be sad.)

Gone, the thin white bridal-registry china, the plainly patterned silver. Gone too, everything else of any beauty -- the massive naive painting of Montmorency Falls in summer, its foreground peopled with hatted and parasolled figures; the twin, deeply sienna-toned oils of roosters; the oddly charming little black-and-white collages.

It isn't the things that matter but the fact of shedding them, these artifacts of connection and sharing (table, tureen, platter) and those few expressions of personality and predilection (not even a dusty outline on the walls where the art had hung.)

Among the very few of those things left, so few that most occupy a small carton on a shallow shelf at the bottom of a closet in a nearly empty house: a century-old pottery puzzle jug of the kind that once amused tavern guests (to drink from a puzzle jug you must first find and cover its perforations), a tiny rose-gold pocket watch engraved with the initials of someone else in the family (why is it here?) and, sheltering a grey and dessicated bouquet (?), a bell jar. (Yes, she was a reader.)

A shoebox full of metaphor, then -- that's what is left with so much gone. A puzzle, lost time and a bell jar.