Cassatt, Norton, Bacon

We’re missing three books.

are you in there?

Must have been lost in the move. Incorrectly packed with garden tools, baby toys, Christmas decorations. Shoved into obscurity in the basement or garage. Jumbled mess of relocation.

The coffee table book we bought in Chicago in 1999 was the one that tipped me off. Oversized tome documenting Mary Cassatt’s work. We’d seen her paintings at The Art Institute’s special exhibit that year.

We carried Cassatt home. Held her on the city bus and the elevator up 35 stories to our apartment of blinding white walls. Lugged her to St. Louis. Cordoned her off from the ordinary books. Separated from the pack. And now she is missing.

I hope Norton is with her. The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry is fat and stout. Ten-pound bag of sugar. Required reading for a circle of writers, hopeful and green. Emblazoned with red and orange that year, I can still see it.

Long before I had a dog of my own, Norton tagged along, shadowing me. Begging to be played with and petted and fed. I’d scratch his ears, brush his coat, and watch dreams fall out in the shedding. He slept in a basket beside my bed, cushioned with transient catalogs and nonfiction. I hope Norton’s with Cassatt.

And I hope they’ve found Seduced by Bacon. The youngest of the three, this gift from a business colleague. We displayed Bacon in our kitchen. The kitchen we’d demolished. Filled with rubble, chaos, and 90-year-old dust. Rebuilt with fresh dry wall and slate, marble and ceramic subway tiles, wood and stainless steel, and blue paint named Amelia that wasn’t quite green or gray.

Bacon came to us as we hawked the kitchen and its house. No room for another book on such carefully staged, ready-to-show shelves. So Bacon stayed in the kitchen where it belonged. Guests chuckled at its name. A cookbook attesting the truth. “Seduced by Bacon,” they’d say. “Now that’s my problem.”

These three are lost. My heart sinks and drowns, buoyed by weak hope. They’ll turn up. We’ll find them again. Normalcy will come on a day unexpected. On a Monday or Thursday, a day of no consequence, I’ll open a box labeled dish towels and there they will be. Smiling, recovered, taking full breaths of air. They’ll ask me what happened. Where are we now? What took me so long to find them?

And I will answer I don’t know. Today I don’t know.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Luke 15:4 NIV

Norton found

The Lost Get Found, Britt Nicole.

Epilogue

Between the time of writing and publishing this post, I found The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry in a box in the basement. Norton now resides behind the glass doors of a bookshelf in my office where I can keep an eye on him as I work. Cassatt and Bacon are still missing.

Have you ever lost a beloved book or other item? Did you find it again? What was that like, the losing or the finding?

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6 Comments

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6 Responses to Cassatt, Norton, Bacon

  1. Caroline McMahon

    Dear Saint Anthony please come around, something is lost and cannot be found.

  2. I’m still missing my Hungarian edition of St-Exupery’s The Little Prince…. It has been swallowed by the vortex in my in-laws’ house when my husband first moved out, and hasn’t resurfaced yet. Being one of my go-to books when I need some comforting, I’m much looking forward to the day when it comes around.

    Caroline – my Catholic grandma always said when I couldn’t find something that I should go and “give a penny to St. Anthony” so he would guide me to the missing object, or vice versa. :)

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