Poem of the Week, by Mark Irwin

Woolworth’s
– Mark Irwin (for Gerald Stern)


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 Dinner, 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 wandered 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.



For more information on Mark Irwin, please click here: http://www.markirwinauthor.com/

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One comment

  1. oreo · December 10, 2011

    Oh, that reminds me of the Woolworth’s I often visited with my father as a child: the smell of the lunch counter, the chirping birds, the bins full of ever-changing tantalizing items. I was so sad when it closed, and when I found one downtown Chicago, I wandered around remembering. I believe that one is gone now too. Only the memories remain, and the lovely poem to read over my black circle of coffee.

    Like

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