—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.