The country market is new and buzzing, but there’s also a pervasive sorrow, so I think it must be me. Because I don’t really know who or where I am. I’m some gentleman, or some plain looking lady, or some young woman, or some single guy, not cruising, not small talking, not too confused, not too sober. It’s proud, poor, rural people, but it could be Irish. It’s not Dublin or Kansas, and I don’t see any black Stetsons, but I know there’s a raspy voiced, tired widowed white woman somewhere singing the blues. The shop woman is a little younger, not much. The weekend shopkeepers with rough hands from their day jobs are older, younger and many.
She doesn’t care that maybe I recognize a few of her more expensive items. And I’m afraid to remember. It’s too random, it’s chance, but I almost recognize the empty, dusty, still unclean ones and know when or where I had them. They’re not too similar, but what if they’re the same and I’ve just forgotten. I’m upset again by something I know could be mine. And then there are several and someone has put up a small chintzy looking display. Still something hurts, deep inside, but I don’t know where or what. There are too many people walking by, each and any way, with bags or gifts or friends or lovers, or nothing in their arms. Who are they? Who am I? Will I see someone I used to know and then have to run or leave? Will they see me? Will they know how precious any or all of these things might have been to someone else? And the grass is too green, even if by the time the shops sell out, or shut up for the season, the grass will be brown and then gone all together.
The big things are big and empty and will have to be carried away and filled again. The little things are small and some of them were curated in various ways with molding, etching or little girl stickers, faded from decades or half a century ago. Some of them are even set up to show they work. Not so shabby to show they’re ready to be someone’s, someone else’s. They shine with little lights, tiny dancers turning on tinkling boxes, newly dusted off and pretty like when the food smells fresh and hasn’t become thick in the air from being in the same place at the same times, days after days on end. And then I remember, there’s something I need here, something I want desperately that I’ve forgotten, and never meant to leave behind.
Does she weep when she sings? There’s isolation in the thick of a crowd that makes the market feel frightening and lonesome and the wailing old woman suddenly seem louder. Her only love, her only light has gone away and she wails, begs and pleads for its heel, for its return. How long has she been singing? How long has she been grieving alone? She knows about never going back, and the things you can’t remember holding onto the things you’ll never forget. She knows about all the things we lose and leave behind. She knows what ‘gone’ is. Maybe she even knows not to look. And as the lights go dim she continues to sing, and as the crowds thin for the evening, my heart slowly begins to sing with her.