"Goodwill Thrift Store, Missoula" by Sheryl Noethe (1:24 PM)





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Published on Dec 11, 2010

From The United States of Poetry episode "A Day in the Life."

Copyright Washington Square Arts, 1995.

It's hard to hate
anybody when we're
all maybe trying
on the shoes of the
dead together,
trying on their slacks
and reading their books.
So we are gentle
to each other
when we reach for the same glass
or same blanket.
Smile when we collide
between the broken couch
and a stain on the sheet.
We pass, cool ghosts who feel
the sleeves of jackets,
the hems of dresses, and hold
nylon stockings up to the light.
An old man tries on
a dead soldier's coat. It weighs
him down, he bends as though
he were carrying the man on his back.
When he opens his narrow pocketbook
a moth flies up.
We find blouses for our mothers
we never sent.
A past we never knew. White bowls
that fit inside each other.
Someone else's babies.
Painstakingly embroidered pillowcases.
Empty jars. Proof of happier lives.

When I walk past the rack
of dark wool suits
I smell a human musk
like an animal would.
I get a sense of a man,
of my long dead grandfather,
and am filled with love
for the suits, love
for the man holding
the double boiler,
love for the teen aged girl
with bare feet, sucking the ends
of her hair and watching
the clock, love
for the lonesome one
that the shoes
will surely

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