Empty Things

1 September 2019 in Writing

She fills her house with empty things. Old birdcages found at Saturday yard sales. A wrought-wire townhome for someday finches, an expansive manse for two former lovebirds (they could not quench their thirst, though separate glasses had been provided). And a souvenir from Vietnam, in whose crisscrossed bamboo shoots, she riddles herself to sleep.

She fills her house with empty things. Vintage perfume bottles arranged on a tray on her dresser. Frosted bodies in pink and blue, curvaceous “squeeze me” atomizers whose misshapen forms hardened long ago (she denies any likeness to her heart). And straight away, she dabs herself with one of the cut and polished stoppers smugly gossiping about how to withstand aging.

She fills her house with empty things until she no longer needs reminders. Such as the day she takes eight glass jars from the spice rack and replenishes the contents. A rosary for peppercorns, matchsticks instead of cinnamon. Safety pins, a bird whistle, a set of keys that wished they might be used again (someday they would be thrown into the sea). Allspice, oregano, basil.

She fills a few voids, but it’s never enough. There is always the surreptitious listening for a knock on the door or ring of the bell. And, hello, a peddler selling birds, a mystic offering perfume (the offer of secondhand emptiness, filled, too hard to resist). Or maybe a neighbor seeking to borrow a cup of sugar, to fill the empty things in the soul of their own cluttered house.