May 25, 2007

Mark Irwin

Everything stands wondrously multicolored
and at attention in the always Christmas air.
What scent lingers unrecognizably
between that of popcorn, grilled cheese sandwiches,

malted milkballs, and parakeets? Maybe you came here
in winter to buy your daughter a hamster
and were detained by the bin

of Multicolored Thongs, four pair
for a dollar. Maybe you came here to buy
some envelopes, the light blue par avion ones

with airplanes, but caught yourself, lost,
daydreaming, saying it's too late over the glassy
diorama of cakes and pies. Maybe you came here

to buy a lampshade, the fake crimped
kind, and suddenly you remember
your grandmother, dead

twenty years, floating through the old
house like a curtain. Maybe you're retired,
on Social Security, and came here for the Roast
Turkey Dimmer,
or the Liver and Onions,
or just to stare into a black circle
of coffee and to get warm. Or maybe

the big church down the street is closed
now during the day, and you're homeless and poor,
or you're rich, or it doesn't matter what you are

with a little loose change jangling in your pocket,
begging to be spent, because you wanderered in
and somewhere between the bin of animal crackers

and the little zoo in the back of the store
you lost something, and because you came here
not to forget, but to remember to live.,

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