What happened to Van Gogh’s ear, wrapped in tissue paper in a prostitute’s drawer? Was it thrown away and left to decompose on a garbage dump in the South of France, or did someone rescue it and keep it as a curiosity, origins unknown? Artifacts circulate. They outlive us. The detritus heaped on tables at the Salvation Army once belonged to people who are now dead—chipped teacups, a doll missing an arm, a bracelet with a broken clasp, a souvenir ashtray with a hula girl (“Aloha!”), countless trinkets they treasured when they were alive. Objects take their places in our unconscious, some on display, dusted regularly like museum exhibits, others hidden away in cupboards we rarely open, or jumbled in piles of belongings we thought we’d discarded or lost. “Rosebud,” we whisper on our deathbeds, to the confusion of those waiting for something more profound.
In our dream band, on tenor saxophone:
Jacqueline Doyle lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has published creative nonfiction in The Gettysburg Review, Passages North, and Fourth Genre, nonfiction flash in matchbook, The Collagist, threadcount, and Ethel, and a flash fiction chapbook (The Missing Girl) with Black Lawrence Press. Her work has been featured in Creative Nonfiction’s “Sunday Short Reads” and has earned seven Notable Essay citations in Best American Essays. Find her online at jacquelinedoyle.com and on twitter @doylejacq