When I started keeping house I went for a spare modern look. An Easterner, I wanted to live to the west of myself, but soon the landscape began to change. It started with my grandfather’s ornate high chair. I placed it in the dining room. My mother’s green and white doll house got a plot near the sideboard that held her silver pitcher which used to bead with sweat as we sat on the back porch sipping ice tea with sprigs of fresh mint.

After a fleur-de-lis brocade sofa arrived (my father’s mother’s who spoke to me of Popocatepetle, Iztaccihuatl and left me her prized Mexican rug), I was endowed with mahogany chairs rich with sitting and pictures of distant ancestors hung in gold leaf.

Soon other corners began to fill with my own accumulations: Balinese wood carvings, Pueblo pots hardened by the heat of sheep dung glazed with rubbing stones and more stones plucked from river beds of high desert mesas; shells from sand-strewn beaches. I nailed upon my kitchen wall a risto of red chilies gently extracted from a dead friend’s kitchen when the cancer ate completely through her bones; and who’s to say how long it will hang here, or how long before the chilies lose their bite?

Between these events, a lover’s mother gave me a set of Lenox birds, one by one, to mark special occasions, (except her son’s and my unraveling). First, a cardinal poised on porcelain trumpet flowers for a birthday, and then a robin hovering over three blue eggs for Mother’s Day, and next a realistic downy woodpecker for a long forgotten event. It ended with a cedar waxwing on a vine of morning glories.

I tell myself I must give away all the furniture, keeping only the time-varnished stones, all the stories I can remember and settle into a small, simple apartment with my dog, begin again—but maybe it’s too late for a more sparely furnished life.

Published Over a Threshold of Roots, Sandra Larson, Pudding House Chapbook Series, 2007