Starter Home

July 14, 1994|By Rachel Eisler

The Turn Over shop sits in a house

stocked with exhalations of couples;

the toast, the throw, the lamp, the mug,

from other homes in Baltimore; it was started,

lore has it, by divorce.

Run by women, a mother and her daughter, and others,

the only men seem to be movers, who sing breezily

as they heft from room to room, ''comin' through,

big bed, comin' through.'' I barely hear them

as I weigh an ice tray which promises glacial

golf balls, to jostle, sportive, in your drink.

The women know -- how do they? -- that I am engaged.

Did I tell them, or is my homely panic that familiar?

They beam when I am provident (a colander)

but chasten with their brows, ''too dear for you, dear,''

when I hanker after luxe (champagne flutes).

Then I march to stores which purvey the new:

mazes of couches, parked in windowless showrooms.

As I test-bounce, my bottom summons up two fairy tales

designed to make me a wiser consumer of furniture:

peas prod me everywhere, and shouldn't a sofa feel ''just right''?

At the Turn Over shop, you can hold things with a tentative

post-it; ponder the low bowl for a day to decide how keenly

its melon-green glaze, the freesias piping along the rim,

and its name, ''Roseville,'' is incised.

Old, foundling, second-hand is more dear than any anonymous new.

Treasurer of chance, I shop by coincidence.

Let the new be solemn as the ring slipped on, the dress worn once.

Let all else, especially love, be well-known, if not worn, before.

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