Hi! All, Campbell’s world visitors! I encourage you to read, and shared this story. The author, has outdone himself this time! I really like this story! I would love to have a purse like this!
I need a purse like that! Wow! Fabulous nice!
By Stephen Halpert
The Velvet Purse
Janis felt drawn to the fancy purse she espied in the window of the antique shop in Amherst. The crushed purple velvet shone, small glass beads hung from it and the brass clasp was remarkably shiny.
She examined it carefully. The proprietor smiled. “I’d guess mid 19th century. Possibly even pre Civil War.”
“Yes,” she said. “I don’t usually feel such an affinity toward purses, but this one…”
He smiled. “Maybe its intended for you. Twice it was sold and almost immediately returned.”
“Really,” she said. “I wonder why?”
“Something about it made the two prior owners nervous.”
She opened the purse and peered inside at the sky blue lining. The purse was empty.
She raised an eyebrow. “Could you elucidate?”
He shrugged. “Neither said. It obviously wasn’t appropriate for either of them. Each mentioned some kind of hocus pocus about poetry. Both are good customers and were relieved when I said I would take it back.”
“Poetry!” She smiled and stroked the soft velvet. “How curious you should say that. For several years I’ve taught poetry over at West Thorndike College.”
Without quibbling Janis gladly paid for the purse. “Perfect for me when I attend the poetry conference in Greenfield this weekend.”
The proprietor nodded and smiled. He dropped a penny inside. “For good luck. I’m glad it was here when you stopped by,” he said. “Let me know how it works out?”
In her early fifties, she was tall and statuesque with bright blue eyes. Streaks of blond merged with the gray in her hair. Janis had recently been appointed Chairman of West Thorndike’s prestigious English Department. One of her goals was to encourage greater poetic creativity amongst those students in the school’s evening adult division as well as to promote the writing of poetry for ultimate publication.
Back home in her on campus apartment she set aside the purse, made herself a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tea and went to work on a sonnet sequence. She felt she still hadn’t quite conveyed her intended meaning. Though the meter and her choice of words were perfectly acceptable, the lines failed to get her message across.
Finally feeling too frustrated to continue, she folded the sheets of paper and wondered what to do with them so she’d remember to take them with her. Finally she put them inside the new velvet purse she intended to take with her to the Conference.. “A watched poet never steams,” she said dryly. “Perhaps another day.”
Right then she felt stymied, her creative juices dry, unresponsive, even distant. But despite these feelings a new sense of excitement and vitality flowed through her. She hadn’t a clue where this optimism might be coming from.
That Friday evening she met for dinner her friend Annabelle, colleague and Poetry Chair at Smyth. Many a night Janis had pored over Annabelle’s choppy verse to help her create publishable poems.
“I’m so stuck,” she confessed. “This new sonnet sequence is going nowhere. I admit it. It misses the mark.”
“Really!” Annabelle pursed her lips. “That’s surprising to hear especially from you of all people. By the way I love that velvet purse. Wherever did you find it?”
Janis handed it to her. “At the Antique shop downtown in Amherst. I’ve taken you there.”
“Yes, but I’ve never seen anything quite this special.”
“The owner said it was mid 19th Century.”
Annabelle stroked the soft purple velvet. Then she shivered. “It’s feels so lifelike.” She handed it back to Janis. “Anyway show me these sonnets that have you stymied. Maybe I can give you some ideas.”
Janis opened the shiny clasp and removed the three folded sheets of paper. “I’m almost embarrassed to show these to you. They’re certainly far from anything I’d feel was ready to submit for publication.”
Annabelle unfolded the sheets and slowly read the sonnets. Tears formed in her eyes. “What are you talking about? These are incredible. One of your all time best sequences.” She then proceeded to read each sonnet aloud.
Janis was amazed. The lively rhyme scheme flowed with gentle integrity, each idea formed perfectly within its own sense of metaphor. These were wonderful. Only she knew she hadn’t written them. Her face reddened. “You do make them sound better than I could have ever hoped for.” She didn’t dare tell her friend that these couldn’t be her sonnets. She was too shaken to say anything more.
Annabelle finished her salad. “If you hadn’t said they were yours I’d have guessed they were by Emily Dickinson.”
Janis gulped. “You think?”
“Oh yes,” she said. “Your best work.”
At the Conference Janis collected submissions, folded them and placed them inside her velvet purse. The following afternoon without having read them she handed them back to the students. Like her sonnets each had small corrections and changes written in a tidy, old fashioned script. Each was a perfect gem. The students were thrilled with the suggestions and left chatting happily about the inspiration they were feeling.
That night in her room Janis held the purse to her heart and said. “Thank you. Thank you so much for all your help.”
She felt a gentle arm around her shoulder. Feelings of love swept through her. A whispery voice spoke in her mind. “My dear, working together we will inspire this new generation of poets.”