To enter the pinched interior of T. R. Wolfe’s Toy and Candy, was to risk your squint that branded every kid a thieving urchin, straight from Dickens. Your hair pulled back into a coarse, gray stone, your face bony and sad— as we’d tap our fingers against the counter glass to pronounce our choice of pink cigarettes cloaked in sugary smoke. Or, from the sundry collection of jigsaw puzzles, lining the store’s high-shelved perimeter: our choice of Barbie and Ken’s dream house, the cockpit of a Concorde, UFO’s over a Midwest wheat farm. Puzzles that would spread like sea garbage across our bedroom floors. How can it be that this is what was given you? Not a pursuit of quiet, brainy labor: reading the ash in Nile River mud. Or studying the remains of prey inside the restless borders of an amoeba. Only the daily repetition of warm coins passing from our hands into yours. And how can I not admire you for your refusal to feign contentment. Whatever it was you wanted, getting us instead.

LISA DORDAL, author of Commemoration from Finishing Line Press, teaches in the English Department at Vanderbilt University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of journals including Best New Poets, Calyx, Cave Wall, Sojourners, New Millennium Writings, and The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.