Saturday, November 29, 2008

The cupboard

Along the living-room wall opposite the fireplace was
a very large cupboard with tall matchlined doors and
a little snibby catch. In this cupboard, which had about
it a whiff of the 1920s and 30s, were rows of long
shelves on which were dumped household detritus:
bolts of cloth, balls of string, hot-water bottles, towels,
linen, old magazines, newspapers, discarded tools and
toys. Scissors. Sewing kits. I cannot begin to tell you
how this cupboard comes into my mind. It had, and has,
an undiminished quality of being. To call it inanimate
would be an insult: it knew stuff that we didn’t know, its
interior had a palpable presence in which was embodied
the knowledge of every item that had passed in and out
of those doors and rested on those shelves. The doors,
which reached almost to the ceiling, watched everything
that went on in the room. They stood tall guarding us,
watching over us, keeping their counsel but ever-patient,
ever-wise. I felt them at all times to be a comfort.

Not for one second did I imagine that through the back of
the cupboard lay a magical land. The cupboard itself was
world enough.

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