—After Joseph Cornell’s art assemblage, “Pharmacy” (1942)
by Jeannie E. Roberts
Bits and fragments, smidgens, shards—discarded remnants
assemble, occupy shelves, seduce the eye.
Glass bottles align. Like a pharmacy of women, their remedies
gleam, await to be used. Cognitive dissonance
arranged this grouping, and as the druggist admires his display,
he attends to the gold bottle. He believes in love and magic,
even genies. Today, he may boost his dosage, for the seashell
also fascinates him. She may reveal the mysteries
of the universe or identify other beloveds and kindred spirits.
As he determines which vessel will serve his needs,
compartmentalization builds, eases his angst. It’s not easy
balancing a love life, opening and closing compartments,
justifying, rationalizing, playing and toying with one’s stash.
Perhaps the druggist is a god, not a man, one who can heal
both inner and outer damage; after all, there can be breakage
during the art of building a psychological assemblage.
And, did you notice his apothecary case?
There’s room for more bottles. Perhaps this space once held
other gleaming remedies. Had they shattered from the ecstasy
of his narcotic?
* * * * *
Jeannie E. Roberts has authored six books, including The Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Romp and Ceremony (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press, 2015), and Nature of it All (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She is also author and illustrator of Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children (Daffydowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books, 2019) and Let's Make Faces! (author-published, 2009). Her work appears in print and online in North American and international journals and anthologies. She holds a B.S. in secondary education, M.A. in arts and cultural management, and is poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing, you can find her drawing and painting, or outdoors photographing her natural surroundings.