We frequent the one where there will be the auctioneer
who is predisposed toward hats,
who is wearing a red fez
tonight while I am not bidding on the stuffed mink
cemented to a wooden board, or the colorful antique lard can.
I never buy anything except nachos
in the back which is when the woman next to us
acquires a large ceramic Jesus TV lamp.
The kind people in the fifties
would center on the top of their console
TV set which would be squatting on the living room floor
like an electric Buddha,
only below everyone’s eye level.
And the paint is flaking around Jesus’s eyes a little if you look
into his eyes looking luminously out,
and I say, Are you a dealer?
and the woman smiles
politely though without replying as maybe she thinks
I am talking to Jesus. Inquiring about his choice of career.
So I say, I mean, do you have an antique
booth somewhere? and the old man beside her says
No, see, Mabel and me we are decorating our house
and he is very thin,
small and almost birdlike
in his jacket with the giant patches on the elbows,
the kind you never find anymore
if you try except maybe in a thrift store.
They are holding hands. If I altogether close my eyes
I can see them in their kitchen,
gazing out this huge window. Mabel and the old man,
and Jesus next to the eggs.
They are watching the sparrows come and go.
I say to my brother, I think I have fallen in something here
like a kind of well that is full
already of light like a glass on a sill or a hilltop
though he doesn’t hear me.
He is busy raising his placard with the 832 Sharpied on.
It’s a bidding war.
Everyone wants the opalescent ashtray shaped like a fish.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.