Oct/Nov 2009 Spotlight

Collection in a Studio Apartment

by Heather Styka

Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Collection in a Studio Apartment

Sometimes I buy boxes
before knowing what
I might put inside
them. And then I have
a box to fill, black
cardboard with metal trim,
wicker, mahogany,
compartments, lids.
So many things can fill
a box: sea shells, matchbooks,
photos of Rome, plastic spoons,
tea bags. Or sometimes I buy
things to put inside, the way
one fills a bookshelf, each shelf
until enough books are
packed snugly like faces
in a queue of people.
When I'm alone on
a Sunday afternoon,
I rearrange according
to author, genre, color,
trying to avoid the inevitable
gap, three books short
of a full shelf. Rooms
desire to be filled until
they shout for more space.
And then one must
decide what is worth
keeping – will I use
that vase, those candles,
paperweights and letters?
And if one cannot part
with property, rooms
will be abandoned for larger
rooms, fresh and empty
like hotel drawers filled with nothing
but a notepad and a Gideon bible.
What temptation lies in large spaces,
barren closets, clear plastic boxes,
each like an open hand before
a covenant, each bin promising to hold
what I cannot throw out
but would rather not see.


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