In the abandoned mall, I climb in the empty fountain smudged with sea foam green rust, the fleur de sel pennies leave. The feeling is not new. One June, I was a baby beauty queen up the hall. Baby is wrong. I was five, describing my cat in terms of eating and sleeping habits. Never sought a kitten to imprint early—no one owns a cat anyhow—but like a cat I reached for every sun blot that fell in the windows, brushed my head on furniture and those I loved, sought connection. On stage, I wore stiff Aqua Net locks, a show pony smile. Outside after, my hair fell in the heat.There’s a shoebox in my closet—greeting cards, dance programs to swear by. I was someone. I was girl, smelling like fruit, flowers, and alcohol spritzed on neck and wrists. Sometimes I still see the bath shop awning, red-and- white gingham. Sometimes I almost watch the videotape a boy gave me for my birthday, a cartoon wolf on the box. I still hear school bus rumors of how his mother found him—the necktie, the bunk bed—the jostle of the bus stopping and starting.This is an anti-nostalgia served in vintage Pyrex—snowflake blue, gooseberry, butterprint. Beware: scratches that leach lead into food, a dinner bell that summons memory. Beware: an oil-slick iridescence pooled on the garage floor.The cat lapping up the sweet beneath the Thunderbird.
Copyright © Gina Keicher
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.