Monday, June 04, 2007

reading the tea leaves

Once upon a time I used to care about numbers. It mattered how many times the bell above the door rang to say that a customer had come into my shop of second-hand thoughts and lovingly refurbished ideas. But that doesn’t matter much any more. Now I smile when familiar faces place their footprints on the welcome mat, when they buy an antique smile or a battered hat.

But I’m still fascinated by the signposts that strangers follow to get here. Because as we know this little shop isn’t clear on the maps, and permanent ink never does what it claims to. So people gaze deep into their teacups and see the fortunes the leaves spell out to them - sometimes the message is clear, and those people end up here.

Recently someone called in the hope of finding ‘how do you loop jelly bracelets on your wrist’ - sadly I have no idea, although I’m sure it’s a useful skill to know. Another came looking for ‘Tales from the Rainbowed Seas’ - but I was all out of stories that day and even my poems were coming through in black and white. Lots of people seem interested in the path ‘through boredom into fascination’ - and so am I, but I’m still perfecting my route. And someone unnerved me a little by looking for something that says ‘Horror is important. It reminds you that you can bleed. It scares the life out of you just to show you how safe y…’ which is strangely familiar, in fact I’m sure its something I said once before. But it seems like some nasty creature, hungry for overblown words, ate that traveller before they arrived, so we’d best keep our voices down.

Once upon a time my signpost was newly painted and the destinations clear. But the weather came and flaked the paint and made some of the letters disappear. For the record, I gave up travelling when I learned to walk - I gave up praying when I learned to talk. But if I can make a pilgrimage then my holyland is beckoning - and its a place of shadows and spotlights with shabby gods dressed in unlikely suits. And for nothing more than the hymns we sing its worth abandoning without and stepping within.


dandelion said...

like every good shop, I come away with something entirely unexpected and new every time i visit...x

polona said...

i've been through that stage too but i don't care about counting anymore.
it's always nice to see an old customer stop by to say hello or even just passing by...

beautiful take on a familiar theme :)

Hatty said...

Loop jelly bracelets by holding them over each other, then bending one in half and the other in half the other way so they're joined with a hole in the middle. Stick hand and wrist through hole formed.