poem05 Sep 2022 05:53 am
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Ursula Whitcher


Sue's grandkid asks, "Will it be hard for you, learning a different language?"
and Sue says, "Honey, Fargo is America," but you say, "Oh, I've done it before."
The new boxes were Sue's—black Amazon arrows, that navy apron
like an eared robot—and the books go in, The Bread Bible,
the Greek Bible, the free Koran from the booth at the fair.
You have liquor boxes from the last move, the housing crash;
you kept the Bacardi ones, because you felt
some kinship with the bat. Linens in those, mostly, and clothes
that mostly fit. "It's been ten years," Sue says. "You don't seem
to have aged a day." You smile and pat your hair. You've bleached
the roots, of course. Dot-com boxes next, Pets.com,
FreeTShirts4Ever. You wrap the Far Side coffee mug
in tissue, and the teacup with roses
you say was your grandmother's.
Liquor boxes again, and you're packing the vases
you never managed to break. The tape crinkles and tears. You miss
the old, heavy Scotch-brand stuff. You miss the twine,
the crates, the boxes for each hat, your steamer trunk
with its heavy latch. "Do they speak English in Alaska?"
another child asked, once. Before that, "Is it hard
to learn American?" You miss the straw you stuffed
around the teapot, the Book of Common Prayer, all that time
you spent at graveyards, leaving roses, with their stems
wrapped in green ribbon, back when you still thought
you'd end there, packed under stone and grass.
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