STORY 4, Part 8

A blue and white daisy button, very small, from Cynthia's Easter outfit when she was three years old. Glued that on. It pulsed with a different light, a slow longing. Buttons that came with a Burbery rain coat that got left on a plane. Put them along the bottom. Tyler's cub scout pin. When I ran out of buttons, I fetched an old jewelry box. Rhinestone earring, one, from the time of losing earrings to baby hands. A sequin pin from an old gypsy costume.

Pretty soon I was pasting on things I could have actually sold at a garage sale--the Christmas angels, napkin rings, but it didn't matter any more. Every object was a memory laid to rest. Holding each trinket, I was in possession one final time of the intensity of a past moment. I touched each memory the way a child tongues the emptiness where a tooth has been or worries a canker sore.

And where there was rage, I let it be rage; if grief, let that be; bittersweet, too. When I ran out of glue, I was done. Each treasure radiated a moment of memory.  It was good; it was beautiful. It was the first day.

On the next visit, I brought more glue, a brush, and a glass cutter. Started in on the ice cream soda glasses and cracked pottery. Foreign coins and old perfume bottles. When I had about three feet of the wall done, I remembered that I had seen this look before. Quaint desert junkholes of shacks--with  patio walls and window frames set with broken pottery, coke-bottle bottoms--in places like Calico or Baghdad or Mojave.   They always looked innocent, these monuments to Americana--a testimony that the crafters had been both pathetic and brave at the same time.

But the work itself, I can tell you, is satisfying to the soul.