(This feature is part of TRUCK’s Theme Issue on the List or Catalog Poem. You can go HERE for an Index of the Participating Poets.)
- 1. I’m sitting shotgun in the van. Crooked parked van at the bottom of a steep driveway.
- 2. Who is in the backseat?
- a. Grandma (asleep), Caitlin, Jenna, Brittany & Rilee Star.
i. I have four little sisters and a monstrous grandmother.
1. Grandma is seventy-one and scheduled to die in a year or two from emphysema.
- b. annoying sounds, candy wrappers, dirty socks, a worn out car-seat
- 3. I’m fifteen. Since April tenth.
- There are no other fifteen year olds at any garage sales ever I am the only fifteen year old on earth who gets dragged around to junk sales on Sundays.
- 4. My mother’s voice is too high pitched for her face. It sounds like this: “Tommy, get over her and help me carry this stuff to the car!”
- a. My mother’s body is slanted from down here, it looks like she’s three feet underwater.
- 5. I climb up the driveway to underwater mother. Beside her is a box and inside the box is:
- a. forks
- b. spoons
- c. knives (at least five different styles of each thrown together)
- d. mittens, no matched pairs
- e. old Barbie dolls
- f. cheap picture frames
- g. a scratched up frying pan
- h. pocketbooks of many different shapes & broken clasps
- i. cheap Christmas ornaments
- j. a coffee pot, heavy with stains
i. Everything in this box is worn down, an imitation. The coffee pot looks like a body without a ghost. The people at this garage sale stand near us but have no concrete faces.
ii. This is something strangers are afflicted with. A loss of definition.
- 6. Two middle aged women in middle aged hats are standing behind a long table laden with junk. They take fives and tens from people and give back ones and change.
- a. Seeing dollar bills reminds me I have school tomorrow
i. fuck that.
- 7. Two men are working under the hood of an old Dodge, farther back in the yard. To my left, hiding under a pine three, is a young woman.
- a. She’s not wearing a bra.
i. My dick gets hard.
- 8. “Tommy, what do you think of this towel for the bathroom?” A hideous pink rag with yellow ducks pretending to swim.
- a. My mother hasn’t gotten laid since my father left and I know this because I heard her crying on the phone about it last week.
- b. My father left shortly before my birthday, maybe the end of March.
i. Grandma said, “Don’t you ever come back, you son of a bitch!” as he was leaving, which was very early in the morning and only I heard this, because I sleep on the couch in the living room and everyone else was sleeping but Grandma is always awake.
ii. I’ve talked to him twice since then.
1. It’s June ninth.
2. No one knows where he is.
- “It’s fine Mom, the girls’ll like it,” I always have to lie to my mother, even about stupid stuff like this.
i. Other lies include:
1. Yeah I went to school today.
2. No, you look fine in that [slutty] dress, Mom
3. Of course I don’t miss Dad, he. Left. Us.
- 9. The house this garage sale is at is not very big, bigger than mine of course, but it looks pleasant inside. There’s hanging plants and maybe a piano.
- 10. “Good, now take that first box down to the car,” my mother says. I see the girl under the pine tree again, she’s sitting on a wooden crate and staring at us.
- a. How old is she? Thirty? Twenty-five?
- b. Her hair is messy.
- c..Her jeans are dirty and torn. Like mine.
i. “Hi,” she says.
ii. Nothing, I say.
- 11. Grandma starts hacking furiously from the van.
- 12. My sisters all jump out, run up the driveway.
- a. Jenna runs directly to the messy haired girl.
- b. Caitlin runs to a table and begins to look through a pile of books and Christmas crap.
- c. Brittany and Rilee Star roll in the dirt.
- d. The girl (lady? I don’t know) says “Hi darling,” to Jenna, who smiles and gets shy. Then the girl yells, “Mom, do we still have the box with all the little girl stuff?”
i. The middle aged woman in the straw sun hat is talking to an ugly old lady, stops to call out, “Yes, somewhere, don’t ask me, hon.”
1. Why’s she wearing a sun hat? It’s overcast and humid.
ii. The girl says to my sister, “Wait right here, I have something for you,”
1. My dick is still hard and it’s going to cause problems.
- 13. My mother is now smoothing out a bunch of ones and fives, possibly a ten. She hands them over to the other fifty-something lady, a pear shaped woman in a Red Sox hat.
- 14. The messy head girl returns with a big box and sets it down in front of Caitlin, who drops the book in her hands and shouts, “C’mere everybody!” Caitlin could be an ambulance siren.
- a. Brittany and Riley Star jump up from the dried out front lawn, send up clouds of dirt.
- b. Jenna is still being shy, she’s the youngest, only four and her life is going to be bad because:
i. we’re poor
ii. she won’t remember Dad at all
iii. everyone else is loud and she is quiet.
- 15. My three other sisters tear into the cardboard box.
- a. “Yay! Dolls!” Brittany screams, pulling out a raggedy yarn thing by the hair. “Dolls, dolls,” sings Riley Star, and yanks out a naked baby and another raggedy object.
- b. I have not picked up and carried off the box Mom asked me to, instead I walk over to where my sisters are. There are lots of other people at this garage sale but no one notices me, all of this old junk is just so damn fascinating.
i. “Here Jenna,” I say, and pick up my little sister so she can see into the box.
1. She reaches in and draws something out.
2. “What did you get sweetie?” asks the messy head erection causing female,
3. Jenna holds up a dirty blue My Little Pony and makes it canter across the table.
4. “Jenna, what do you say?” I say, always have to be the person saying this.
5. “Thank you,” my sister says to the braless girl, who replies, “Oh, you’re welcome honey. Wish I had something for your brother.”
a. “You do, it’s in your jeans.
b. “No, no-it’s cool you gave these toys to my sisters,” I say, no words tripped over and I even looked at her face.
- 16. Which is pretty, a kind of sad face, like the garage sale is taking a serious emotional toll on it.
- a. She half-smiles back, then looks at her hands which are filthy.
- b. “Tommy, where are you?” calls my mother, from four feet away. She gets spacey in the afternoons; something she and grandma fight about a lot. Something called “mother’s little helper”.
i. “Right here, Mom”
1. “Good, now take this other box and Jenna back to the car. Caitlin, Rilee Star, Brittany, where did you get those dolls?”
a. “Oh, I gave them to your daughters,” says the girl.
i. My dick’s not hard anymore but my mouth is dry. Where is the coffee I was promised an hour ago.
ii. “Mom, when can we get coffee?” My voice is so gritty lately.
b. “Oh, I have some in the house, hang on.” The girl again.
i. My dick again.
- 17. Caitlin, Rilee Star and Brittany and Mom walk towards the van. Apparently we’re done here. Jenna stays with me and smoothes out the mane of her My Little Pony. The girl runs to the back door of the house to get me coffee. A middle aged couple looking through stacks of old records turns to each other and raises their eyebrows.
- a. She returns with a tray with 2 coffees and a couple sugar packets and a carton of half and half.
i. “Oh, did your mom want some?” she asks.
1. “Don’t worry about it,” I say, and take a coffee cup off the tray.
2. I drink black coffee.
a. This seems to impress her.
b. She takes the other coffee and drinks it, also black.
- b. “Oh, thanks,” I add, like a jerk.
i. “My pleasure,” she says. Why did we have to come to this garage sale where this girl is standing there with her big tits hanging free under her T-shirt making me want to come in my pants while my four year old sister leans on my arm? Fuck all.
- 18. “Tommy! Let’s go! And bring those boxes, Christ,” my mother yells from the driver’s seat, and people at the garage sale look up from whatever crap was in their hands and stare.
- a. “Let me help,” she says. I gently push Jenna towards the van and put down my coffee cup.
i. It wasn’t very good coffee, but that’s besides the point.
ii. The girl picks up one the boxes of junk that used to be hers and now is ours, and walks down the steep driveway.
iii. I take up the other box, it’s heavy, and stagger down the hill.
1. Inside the van, Grandma is snoring and the girls are all playing with their new old dolls.
2. “Just put them in the back,” Mom says, staring at the house. It’s a pretty house, but the yard is very messy. Like the girl’s hair.
a. “Sure thing,” she says, and, “thanks for stopping by,”
- 19. Everything is now in the van and the girl steps back. I decide she is 27. I get into shotgun again, slam the door. The coffee is going to help with the ride home, my head is clearer.
- 20. My mother turns on the engine and jerks it into reverse. She backs up without looking behind her.
- a. I look at the disheveled girl again.
- b. She looks at me.
i. Just before my mother shifts into forward and peels off the street, the girl licks her lips.
1. And I think maybe she’s been thinking the same thoughts I have:
a. boring garage sale
b. I want to get high
- 21. “Well, that was a pretty good haul, eh Tommy?” asks my mother as we peel down the block.
- a. “Sure, Ma. There was some good stuff there,” my head’s against the glass.