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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 5

EMPTY

With what was left of
her inheritance money
she opened a gift shop
on the High Street.
Stuffed animals
from Germany.
Dolls. Antiques.
Watches. What we
call Bric-a-brac. The vicar
came to see her once.
There was a cat
by the window
and that was that.
Dust settles easily
in a place where
nothing grows or
changes -- local women
sweep past without a glance
the tourists know better than to
come in (may as well hang a sign
in the window saying ‘stay away’)
and the children, who understand
these matters more than most and pull
no punches, said it best -- the place was haunted.
That was all right with her, that shop wasn't
meant for any of them anyhow --
'Audrey's Dream Fulfillment
Centre" she called it and at 5 pm
she shut the place up tight,
went home to cook her meal
& sharpened her nails by the fire.
She took little pills, too
to kill the pain that
lives just below
the surface of the world,
that membrane of the body
where the soul resides.
It was not something
she did out of weakness
(Her people were too strong
for weaknesses, stronger than
loneliness, stronger than God,
stronger even than her
father, who was
stern with her
and called her
'a wilful thing'
when she acted
like him). 'She's her
Father's Child all right'
said her mother, 'cut from
the same cloth,' and walked
out on the both of them.
It was all one to her:
customers, family,
church. Men, and their
vulgar stupidities. All of
a piece! Like sunlight --
too much of a good
thing hurt her eyes.
She preferred night,
when the streets were
empty, like heaven.

  George Wallace