Poetry & Prose

Exit Through the Gift Shop

When I left,

she dug up mementos

from the archives of the attic,

and placed them

on the newly bare dresser.

“Team Player 2007” plaque,

small fortune of Sacajawea coins,

a 9 year-old’s scrawly Post-Its

about the sad polar bear

at the zoo.

A slew of cursive J’s, none just right.

She pasted family photos

over phantom tan lines

where posters

once hung.

Constructing a composite.


A wide window frames

the same street view

unending TV marathon:

red brick lined by indecisive oak,

Mr. Duff’s minivan parked inconveniently in front of the trash.

People walk by with their dogs

they walk by holding hands

he walks by

kicking a stone

or himself

maybe both.


The pale blue radiator below

burns the knees of those

who linger too long watching.


On the phone

I tell her of my swelling world.

You always loved to move around

she recalls.

My daughter,

so good.

She is so fast.

She was so quick to leave.

I miss you

she wants me to say

but doesn’t ask,

knowing that

I don’t.

When I am away,

she visits the space each morning,

regulars get in for free.

The untouched bed an artifact

preserved in September.

Sleep-crinkled sheets of excitement

remain a static installation.

She chooses to leave them that way.

She peers out now,

coffee cup kept close.


The street is still red

oak trees in position,

now naked.

Mr. Duff’s car in its (un)usual spot.

A strange comfort in knowing what she’ll see.


Then she thinks of me somewhere


and her palms and knees begin to blister,


but she doesn’t notice.

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