When You Have Lived a Long Time in One Place
things start to vanish. Like the old Newberry’s
where I used to buy earrings that looked
like tacks, six pairs for a dollar, and then
go sit at the lunch counter with the old people
eating patty melts and drinking black coffee.
They stared in front of them like the women
on the bus with their plastic rain scarves
that they took from their purses when the bus
lurched towards their stop. They wore dresses
from the old country. Now I wonder
if they have nowhere to go. The building
stands empty like a mind that can’t remember
the words that stick things to their places,
pants, chair, toast. How can we remember
if they keep taking things down, like the house
where I lived when I was young and waiting
for love? I lay there in the yard in my bathing suit
pink as a poppy and I could feel his shadow
when it touched my body.
Now there is only a clean slate of grass
where that house stood, the same grass
that covers the spot in Lincoln Park
where there used to be a wading pool
where I took Ben until the day I turned away
to get a toy for him and then he was face down
in the water, and I pulled him out
and we looked at each other and I could see
in his eyes that he couldn’t believe the water
was heartless, that it didn’t know who he was.
Dresses from the Old Country is now available from booksellers nationwide. Buy a copy today from the BOA Bookstore.