Popped into a charity shop (thrift store to Stateside readers) the other day, looking for a piece of lost soul and there on the shelf was the complete recording of ‘La Boheme’ with Kiri Te Kanawa singing Mimi, libretto included and all for under £3. I love it when that happens, as I feel the Universe smiling in my direction.
I bought it and later at home found a small envelope tucked into the case. It had ‘Elizabeth’ written in a fine italic hand on the front and inside a note in the same handwriting that said,’ I hope you grow to love this as much as I do. Love Dad’. Elizabeth obviously hadn’t, as it had found its way to a charity shop, which I found very sad and rather unsettling. That juxtaposition of yearning and rejection seems to be a repeat melody in the human song. What longing and perhaps rather inappropriate desire had propelled that envelope on its journey from there to here on this page in cyberspace? It’s a mystery.The sort that often jump starts a poem into expression.
That’s what I love about charity shopping. It’s the antithesis of going shopping with a list, for serendipity is in the mix. It’s rather like fly fishing. You cast your line and never know in advance what is going to grasp your fly.
Once a postcard fell out of a book that had come to me this way. The picture (Karl Spitzweg 1808-1885) was of a bedridden man in an attic, with an umbrella to hold off the rain coming through the ceiling and a pile of books possibly ready to be used as fuel for the stove at the foot of his bed. On the other side of the card was the handwritten message: Mother I am coming to visit you from an attic. No special arrangements please. From Dennis
Sometimes I ask myself, why no special arrangements? No answer comes apart from a feeling that grows and grows until one day it pops out as a poem about the yearning for love and the myriad of reasons we find for withholding or deflecting it. And so we spin a web of meaning from the extraordinary ordinariness of being alive. I suppose this is how I retrieve the lost pieces of soul. Tomorrow I might even post the poem that postcard triggered.