Essay

Images


Flying Geese Doll Quilt
(1876-1900)


Dunkard's Bear Paw
(c1865)


Broken Star
(c1994)

At Auction

Skeen, Anita

A Poem

We’ve seen what happens when Aurelia dies
and the quilt tops - Flight of Geese, Bear’s Paw,
Broken Star - which she survived the long    
winters stitching sift down through default
to estate sale, seen how the men whose hands
hammer and plane grip the embroidered towels
and music box, heard the auctioneer bid off
the wedding bed for seventy-five, a Tonka truck
for twice that much.  Someone buys the family
portrait for the frame, the Sunday hats for the box.
I think of my own accumulation as I take home
a lantern, robin’s egg blue, from the Great Northern
Railway, wonder what might be displayed
to a room of peculiar strangers, hands greased
with hot dogs and popcorn, what might be offered
 
for my mother’s glass bowl, the pitcher my father
salvaged from a hotel burned in The War.
Yesterday I read how, on the prairies
of North Dakota, the small clapboard churches,
steeples honed on loss, sit empty, contents
headed for auction.  Hymn books first --
ten dollars each B then the platters
from church suppers, the china plates,
the communion cups.  Pews close out the lot.
Stained glass windows go to restaurant
and spa, still lighting the waters of rebirth,
still witness to the increase
of loaves and fishes.


Date: 2011