Is that all? asks the sales clerk. These days I want to travel lighter and lighter. It is probably still too much, but I haven’t yet detached from some ideas of comfort— What is it today? a vial of lavender spray, a shampoo bar, a packet of herbal tea. We used to have a small kitchen with an ancient refrigerator. A gas stove with four burners, one of which did not work. We boiled drinking water in a dented kettle. On cold days, we heated water for baths. In a pewter pot, coffee percolated. We bought a local blend from a stall in the market: they ground the beans and poured the grains into oily paper sacks. Oh the luxury then of instant coffee— if not Nescafe, then something mother called Hillsbros. Cleaned out, the bottles held a variety of condiments. Or kept in storage something for that day of gaping lack. Rows of them lined a shelf beneath the counter: dry rattle of mung beans for a rainy night; salt, cloves, bay leaves, pepper. In another, sweetness that would need prodding, hidden in hard curls of cinnamon stick or pods of anise.


In response to Via Negativa: Message without bottles.

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