She collects things
in a portrait of mystery
like her father did, so long ago.
Bureaus, of empty dusted drawers
she packs nonsense within
tin sewing boxes her mother gave her,
covered in lace doilies,
her grandmother gave her.
Or that she earned in penny-dreadfuls

for taking my father's hand-
robbing her clean

so she collects things.
Things that are not hers,
the yellowing photographs she replaced with Bowie posters
the bad memories of what she was left with.
To hold her chinese fan
and speak to me of being a princess again,
Objects we dance beneath to live out our dreams.

She and I-
but I never knew the meaning

of the endless dishwear and linen clothes,
Teapots of green sullen whispers
and candles and jars of jelly,
the sweet taste on her lips.
Does she remember,
who she used to be,
or has she forgotten?
But its too much
to have the china packed into boxes

for the ghost children that never came home.
And the murky gemstones
that have broken their borders by smashing time,
surrounded in their void golden casings
wrapped in ripped silk scarfs.

She were like them now-
laying before the Tibetan Buddha

or the stones collected from mid-german streams
untouched and caked in dust
or trapped in unbreathing boxes.
She sits alone in that desolate home
Beside her collections
I wonder...
When she would fade into
one of her things
Along the captured stones and behind broken buraeus
Mother, terra-cotta sorceress
talk to me again before
you fade into the memory of
All the things you've collected

About The Author

AJ is a senior at Hamline University and receiving her BFA in Creative Writing. She is also published in Sharkreef Magazine. She was an editor on Hamline's undergraduate literary magazine "Runestone" for the 2021 issue. Her inspirations are sci-fi and fantasy literature, as well as historical fiction and non-fiction.