The Cabinet of Curiosities Inside My Head

by Joan Lennon


You’ll need to look from the door.

It’s rather full.


‘But this place – this

cabinet of curiosities – 

what’s it for?’


It isn’t for.

It is.

And if I weren’t,

it wouldn’t be.


Never mind. Now, what might you like to see?


This drawer here is full of blue –

the surprising palette of a northern sea,

and the shades of shadows cast by snow,

and evening under trees –


This basket, see, has

the warmth and weight 

of a sleeping baby in your arms,

and the feel of sharp-edged rocks

under foot,

and the purr fur of cats –


That scrapbook has those turns of phrase

that stay – 

and that one –

and these and those – 


‘And that chest there?’


No point opening that.

It’s for those things that senses fail to sense,

that words can’t home.


‘The stuff that dreams are made on?’


No, those are over there.


‘All right, then, what about those bottles?’


Scent of geranium.

The sound, overhead, of the tiny prop plane

that brings the mail.

The smell of sick flesh

and closed rooms.

A perfect blueberry. 


‘Not meaning to be rude, but it’s quite a jumble!

How do you ever find anything?’

I don’t.

Things find me.


Inspiration – how does it work?


A Cabinet of Curiosities is pretty much a mess. Instead of a tidy collection, it’s a wild jumble of unrelated bits and bobs. All that this flotsam has in common is the person who put them there. No two Cabinets of Curiosities are alike – could possibly be alike! – just as the inside of no two people’s heads could possibly be alike. You don’t need an entire room or a wall of complicated shelving to make a Cabinet of Curiosities. All you need is the inside of your head.  


And that’s an answer. Inspiration works by rummaging through the unique and intriguing jumble inside our heads. 


What’s in yours?


Joan Lennon (novelist, poet and non-fiction writer)

Thomas Heitler (comic book artist)


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