The Objects

Eugenia Toledo-Keyser

Cardboard boxes and trunks pile up: packages and plastic bags, letters, years-long correspondence, accounts, taxes, business, personal mail. Crumbling castle towers amid furniture and abandoned objects. Tons of perishables: jars of unusable soups and vegetables invading the cupboards, open boxes, others unopened intact, boxes of women’s magazines, of daily clippings, thousands of clippings. National Geographic magazine collections. Feminine creams, face powders, make-up, combs of all sizes, hair clips, about 500 headscarves, soaps, aspirin, medicine, hats, sunhats, more creams, keys, wholesale clothing of various years and styles, cameras, binoculars, two three four spare plumbing parts, keys, foul smells, alarm clocks, doorknobs, light bulbs, hats made of Shetland wool or alpaca or nylon. Raincoats, seals, unused kitchen appliances of unknown utility. Wine bottles, plates of all sizes, cups, glasses, pots, candy bowls, sugar bowls, saltshakers, figurines, birds, flowers, vases, mermaids, boats, shells, a figurine of a bird– it’s a beautiful lamp its body lights up. Never-used plastic containers, empty black box. Lost keys. Photos, albums of strangers, of hundreds of World War II soldiers, none that she (or anyone) recognized. Stained portraits, frames without photos, empty black box. Unfinished projects, a painting of a rose traced from a magazine. More photos, huge photos, some needlework, fabrics purchased in bulk by the roll everything is wholesale. Documents and photocopies. Wills from different years. Instruments found: carpentry tools, three or four firearms and dental instruments, tweezers, scalpels, scrapers, chisels, hoes. Miscellaneous handguns and firearms. A large safe with nothing inside just a handwritten message: a curse on us, her close family.

The bronze keys to the house handed over to the new owner.

There was one lone chair left in the middle of the room like in the painting by Vincent Van Gogh– the yellow chair, astonished observing the blue sea.

Erin Goodman is an administrator at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and a freelance literary translator. Her translation of a selection of over one hundred poems by Juana Rosa Pita, called The Miracle Unfolds, is forthcoming this fall.

Eugenia Toledo-Keyser was born in Temuco, Chile, and grew up in the same neighborhood as Pablo Neruda. She came to the United States in 1975 to pursue a Master’s degree in Latin American Literature and a Ph.D. in Spanish Literature at the University of Washington in Seattle.