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The Purse Thieves

There was the arm, the black

pricey number barely on her

white shoulder in broad daylight.

Why first did she have to look

to my face when she screamed

stop? I did nothing

except look up from the gas pump,

yes—held tight as a gun,

before I looked back down again to witness

nothing, only my shadow. I saw nothing—

just two boys who favored me

when I was that age and always mistaken

for being older. I mean, I felt nothing,

except that my body was not my body

anymore; stomach shoved aside

to make room for two more; I was an animal

raised to be slaughtered in the name of a

pricey leather number dangling from a shoulder

to be stolen. It all happened so fast—

my shadow bled into their shadows,

for a moment, a second, an eye-blink,

as we fled across the lot. We

were at play together in a race

like brothers. And like brothers,

just like that, the shadows broke apart

and we were separated again. I saw nothing—

only their bodies

slid into the back of a white van and

I slid back into my white car

as if I might chase them down

to save them or

I don’t know. I did nothing,

I brought both hands to my face.

I heard the white van’s wheels peel the afternoon

like a mask I thought could never be removed—

a skin. When the police sirens grew larger,

I pulled my hands from my face,

placed them on the steering wheel.

from Fantasia for the Man in BlueFind more by Tommye Blount at the library

Copyright © 2020 Tommye Blount
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Poems Tommye Blount

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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