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The Estate Sale

At the estate sale we go through someone

else’s things, finger the linens, admire the

silver, the bone china, run our hands over

the smooth walnut table, the lovely corner

cabinet, rummage through the box of

old dance cards–1914!–the baby clothes

stiff with age, the tattered prints, maps,

postcards, memorabilia from so many

events and travels.  We thumb through

the dusted off books, ooh and ahh over

the fancy ladies’ gloves, sort through the

old photographs, try on the hats, admire

the handiwork on pillowcases, tablecloths,

needlepoint. We are on a journey through

someone else’s life with only these

artifacts for clues, no narrative, no family,

no one here to tell her story.  For example,

what became of Mr. Mann, whose name

appears on a February 1, 1915 dance card,

who asked her to save him a place for a

whirl around the floor to “Poor Pauline?”

Did he bow and kiss her hand when the

dance ended, did a romance ensue?

We don’t know the color of her eyes

(or his), the sound of her laughter, her

loves and losses, whether her dreams

came true, how many children she had

(if any) and why oh why they would

have let all these precious things of hers

leave the house with strangers.

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