The Pleasing Group


A lady visited this morning to put a notice in the window. It is an excellent notice about a local art group, an excellent group.
She stopped though to linger over the bookmarks.
She said: I don’t really use them. She bent low over the bookmarks, stroking the cool flanks of the metal stems.
She said they were absurdly lovely, that she might get her daughter one, that the gold owl was very pleasing, that the fish was probably the one, that the gold dragon was handsome…she said they make a pleasing group.
I thought that the bookmarks, unvaluable trinkets that they are, went through some sort of metal and glass conversion when they were considered under the softened eye of a browsing reader. They do for me. They mark the beginning of a sliver of reading and then mark the end of that same fragment. They are only glass and pins and rings built one by one, slowly, across the summer evenings. But under the gentle fingertips of discerning readers they gleam slightly, the dragon stirs, the mermaids move their muscular cold tails, the gecko shivers, the snake’s tail draws up in anger.
This lady bent low over the mermaid, she held up the tiny lamp to the sunlight, the swung the silver owl, and stroked the sailing ship and put aside a bronze dragon and a gold owl, they clicked one by one as she laid them down. One for herself and one for her reading daughter. She hung the clock, trembling in emerald green back on its cage. She said: I really shouldn’t.