All the layers

There was an opening going on, a ceremony. Free food – cookies, punch, party fare. A waitress was carrying to giant tray that were longer than her body and somehow could almost balance it all. But a woman came to help her set the tray of goodies down on a table full of goodies. And then the woman tried to help balance the trays on a table. One tray was spilling over red juice and it rocked back and forth. The woman held onto it with her hands, but it turned into a wave. She hid under the table while red juice spilled everywhere. She was saved sans a small patch of her pants.

I was on a mission to find cookies, so I walked into the building. Outside on the side it said it was a “heart center” and looked like a run-down hospital. Inside was a glossed-over beige. Slick-looking halls, not much substance, a few people wandering around. As I went down to another floor, I saw rows and rows of pianos. My friend who was with me thought we weren’t allowed to be there, but I wandered in farther. And then we came to a room full of old books. The smell of them was wonderful. Dusty old paper, worn-out glue. My friend who was a musician picked up a book about music. I tried to find something for myself, something about writing or poetry, but couldn’t. And so we moved on the the next room that was full of antique dishes. Pale pinks, sea glass greens, whites. There were soap dispensers, bowls, plates, beautiful vases and still I was trying to find something for me, something I would like to take home, but nothing really stood out.

My boss joined us. He said he’s known about this place for so long and it’s a wonderful museum, a wonderful place to come. It’s a museum of old things – people spend hours there.

We walked along a well-lit hallway. A big wall of windows looked out to a close hillside and as we left the museum, people had set up small tables selling their wares and goods.

We stopped at a woman selling produce. I picked up an onion and in one swoop of my hand, peeled off the crispy, outer layer. I wasn’t sure where the onion came from until I saw my boss picking through a basket on the ground. The onions were a deep purple, white at the root. They were oblong, shaped like eggplants or the head of a squid. She said her onions were so big, some people didn’t know how to cut them. But you have to start from the back, she demonstrated and took a knife and sliced in and out of the root of the onion.

My boss was standing next to me cutting his own section of the onion. We were practicing dicing. I was using a red apple instead. The woman was bantering with my boss, making small talk about all the layers and she said something about me, about the poet – the way I was dressed or looked. She knew I was a poet without knowing me or anything about me. It felt wonderful to be seen by a stranger. I smiled and kept dicing my apple into smaller and smaller pieces.

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