“Do You Remember Life Before Walmart?”

September 11, 2017

—question asked by Wendy Scott Paff          



My parents would drive an hour & a half to the nearest mall

where we’d shop in department stores that don’t exist today,

me hiding in clothes racks, pretending a minute passed,


but only one. Then malls came to us, closer, &

we—the we that turned into I & the I that became another we—

hung out there, eating cookies while stumbling along corridors


between National Record Mart & Spencer’s Gifts.

The mall was a youth home where music lived,

with magazines to thumb through from my knees &


books to read. I saw old joggers circling,

policemen wary in one mean eye.

The ear-piercing girl looked squeamish, &


the mall clown smiled her pissed-off smile.

I like to think of it as my Earth in a parallel universe,

one in which I wasn’t me & no one cared if I were.


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