I am a Collector of Useless Things

I am a collector of useless things
Christmas-cracker rings, paper dots –
Coloured string – hidden in drawers –
Behind oak doors – in boxes –
Tucked into books –
Small pieces of treasure –
Gathered together –
Where I always forget
To look –
Empty perfume bottles –
Silk scarves never worn –
Torn little pictures –
My children’s first teeth –
Beneath buttons of pearl –
Surrounded by ribbons
Bought for a penny
From a gipsy in Kent, where
We all went one summer
For apples – for flowers –
For hours made of melon-seeds
Left in a vase on top of my brother’s
Old dinky-cars –
Victoriana, souvenirs from the past –
Before I was born – green shiny glass
White-pretty china – a fat, ugly cat,
A crinoline-lady – a black-evil bat –
Hundreds of marbles – bundles of fans –
All lacy – all Spanish – all second-hand –
Broken bangles, a brooch of real gold –
A pack of cards with most of them missing
A drawing-pin with a top of brass –
A shell from World War I, also begun
Before I was born –
Left lying near some Gaelic corn –
Dried sticks of spice from miles away –
A basket of sweets – near some bright
Orange straws – notes about butterflies,
Last year’s hat – shopping-lists, old bills,
Cotton reels – a skein of pink wool –
Tied around my son’s first shoes –
Lipsticks I don’t use –
A small stuffed bird – a clockwork mouse,
Left in a corner of my favourite house –
Fragments of chains – a match-box from France
A St. Christopher rusty with age –
Other charms all tangled with hair –
A doll with one arm
Sitting in a miniature chair –
Left by the side of a rusty bird-cage –
Being a collector of useless things –
I also keep weeping-willow leaves –
Feathers from sparrows left in the snow –
Brown-beans that forgot how to grow –
Tomato-plants for some future spring –
A 78” record cracked down the middle –
Also a jug in the shape of a fiddle –
A musical toy made in Japan –
Some Cornish violets – dried in the sun –
A soup-bowl from a special occasion –
One cushion nobody likes –
A few scented joss-sticks –
A candle from Rome – broken earrings
An Indian flute – some of that shiny –
Plastic pretend fruit –
Theatre programmes just had to be there
An underground ticket, letters, brown rice,
Packets of foreign stamps;
Never been opened –
Along with my toothpicks, my brushes,
My combs – in dozens of places –
Drawers, grey suitcases, trunks
From big ships- little zip bags –
Biscuit-tins – my daughter’s tatty –
School satchel –
Left alone on a windy March day –
I’ll dust them, count them –
Call them quite silly – put them away –
But know with my collection of
Useless things left on a shelf –
I’ve dusted and collected parts of myself.

Shänne Sands, The Silver Hooves.

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February 2019
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