Chapter 4. Relics


This small gilded box was said to cure the gout. There might be nothing in it, or it might contain the finger of a saint still impossibly bleeding.

Lock of hair

This lock of hair might show that Pablo Neruda was poisoned, or it might eliminate that possibility, leaving only the possibility that he died of prostate cancer. In either case, it’s also possible this is someone else’s hair.


This album of daguerreotypes shows ancestors of my first wife. Each image being mounted in its own thick paper frame shows how precious each one was, though we don’t know any of their names.

Artillery shell

Spent power, this heavy brass cylinder is the shot casing of a QR 18-pounder. You can still smell the gunpowder in it. World War I. Immmense inhumanity and suffering. Senseless losses, living hell. No one should think it was a noble war.

Glass floats

These three glass fishing floats were collected along the coast of Northern California, having detached in a storm and drifted from Japan. The net of knotted rope remaining woven on the larger one reminds me of my father, maybe because it hasn’t unraveled.

Saint Christopher medal

This bronze medallion attached to a simple chain depicts Saint Christopher carrying the child Jesus on his shoulder. It would have been worn by a traveller for his protection. Regard this and be reassured.

S&H Green Stamps

Torn from a perforated sheet, these green stamps were a reward for loyal shopping and might have been redeemed for goods from the Green Stamps catalog but never were.


This was the first Mac no hard drive, cathode ray tube, 72 square black dots per inch, and 128 kilobytes of memory. 400-kilobyte floppies booted the operating system, loaded application software, and saved my work. The Mac, MacPaint, MacWrite, and ImageWriter let me be the illustrator and typesetter for my first small books.