The thrift store was somewhere my Auntie found a last gasp of job satisfaction after caring for people one to one for most of her life. Now she was helping people with pain indirectly it seemed to take the weight off her shoulders. She looked younger and wore a lot of pink.
The shop gave profits to help care for people in their last moments of life. It gave my Auntie something to validate her own journey and the shop itself became a joyful muse of hope for all of us in the family and we would visit her there.
The lady who managed the shop had an interest in second hand books and had the quality of a muse, inspiring poetry in some of her customers. So before she accepted your donation, often brought in inside bursting plastic bags, she would look you in the eye over the spine of the used book you were leaving behind and say ‘ah but is it a good read?’
Candy, the shop manger, changed how I saw literature and her movement through the upstairs and downstairs sections of the shop was a cross between an elegant ballet and a well rehearsed military manoeuvre. The busy preparation of donated clothes before their presentation to the public happened upstairs and was separated by a spiral staircase that lead to the downstairs level where the desire to please the customer took place through cheap deals on used luxury fabrics. The ladies ran the cut price shop as a boutique almost. You could look good for a small amount of cash.
Being able to try on a new look an in instant became fascinating to me and Candy who managed the store played her part in the store well. She was direct, to the point and business like. She was keen to solve the problems of the world.
I admired their work ethic and frankly they made me feel lazy. They had a rhythm to their work and their day so It was easy to write a short poem about how I felt starting at her through the gap in the curtain that divided the staff from the customers or visiting staff.
“Drift of Thrift”
out of season fashion for a reason.
Other people’s history helps
her live and learn
while she volunteers
and under earns.
a shirt of raw silk tailored with loose stitches she mastered
in prison; she stops
at nothing to gather
funds for world peace and holds
up a paradox in high heels.
Magic Candy speaks
a lot to shock
new visitors who stand
near her bright cerise and wild carnations.
Lost inside a kaftan the world can’t discover
She will not emerge
her hair in perfect curls, she punctuates
perfection with a fresh flower refreshed
every hour until it becomes
her signature and then the one true Candy shrieks.
She tells me to drop my outer story
and see myself through inner glory.
For much less cash
she gives me dash.
She reduces overheads with a sneeze.
Lunch is stale bread and grated cheese.
Her afternoon glare makes me think
there is money in pink.
She puts down the till roll
and calls me ‘doll’.
My few coins help, I’m told,
real change take hold
and like the single vintage glove I sport
her charity shop spells love.
When it rained there were two dogs in the corner who had their own fan club. People brought food in for them and gave them bowls of cold water when the shop was hot.
I told her how I thought it was great her team of staff came together as a group but she said it would not matter if they didn’t. She said it would still be ok. The game was to help others. Everyone had their purpose in that shop whenever I visited. I felt lighter and happier and more optimistic and more sure of myself when leaving. It was like a light had opened in my heart.
One day someone came in with a walking frame. They were young and had no need for it themselves. They didn’t need to explain. Whoever used it had passed away. Lines from feeling grief were deep on the face of the chap who handed it in. The shop made me dig deeper into knowing how precious each moment is.
Find more posts inspired by muses here and below