"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

Year5, Papers, and Shell Game

Year5, Papers, and Shell Game


I used to think that my construction
methods were solid.
But now when the air gets too still,
I brace my feet on the rim,
and lock every muscle,
fixing my grip on his ankle.
I hold my breath and sense the tremor
before the freight train sucks him into the tunnel.
The pieces knocked loose
clatter as they hit the concrete.
His hinges are hanging.
Please, please, let us rebuild.




Leaves raked into neat little stacks,
rubber-banded together in bundles,
planted in rows with hardly a furrow,
cut off from light and air in
bug-proof plastic bins.
Stored under the beds,
and in the closets,
and on garage shelves,
and in cabinets.

There is neatness, and there is order,
but the disordered mind who placed them there
moved them from home to home
like an itinerant librarian,
holding the sole library card,
downsizing the space but not the collection.

There are mall directories,
Do you need directions to Strawbridge & Clothier’s?
and pay stubs since 1952,
(arranged in reverse chronological order),
and the builder’s marketing materials from our first house,
and from every new development we visited,
and from every timeshare “free lunch” presentation,
and check registers that multiply like rabbits living in a cabbage patch,
where Mr. MacGregor has given up.
Did you notice that our phone bill now is higher than our first mortgage?
Is that a photo of your father’s grade-school class?
wedged in between
the menus from our cruise through the Panama Canal,
and down the Rhine,
and the Mississippi,
and the Seine,
and the performance schedule from Dollywood,
been there three times - got three bundles,
and that little baggie has a quarter eagle,
dated 1911 and worth some real coin,
and at this casino we saw Tom Jones,
and here’s the matchbook from when Bill Haley danced on the table until 5 am,
and the guest list from my bridal shower.
Don’t worry, I made five bins for you, and five bins for your sister.
If one newspaper clipping is good, then four copies must be better.
Here are X-ray films of my foot,
and my shoulder,
and my abdomen,
and my lungs,
and a brain MRI,
Oh, is that your father’s spine?

The papers lie dormant,
flaccid - unable to stimulate a feeling, or stir a memory.
Their curator has left the museum.

And so they go.
Some to confetti in the shredder, all dressed up with no party to attend,
Some to liquid pulp, hoping for rebirth into some significant work and not detested tax forms, or
God forbid, toilet paper,
And some to join the archivist, carbon atoms in the earth, soil for someone else’s harvest.



Shell Game

Today’s cocktail reeks of spoiled estrogen
but the hour slips her mind.
Fuzzy mold bursts from the screw windings where
some ooze became trapped, caramelizing,
trivial and wasted,
yet still supporting life,
such as it is.

Diane McTigue is a 50-year old mother of three, living in the suburbs of Philly. She is a former (and probable future) lawyer. She has always enjoyed writing as a way to tie together random-motion thoughts. From time to time, she discovers that other humans share similar thoughts, memories, or impressions. In the past several years, she has published small pieces in a book, a magazine, and an on-line travel journal.

Cover photo by Christa Dodoo on Unsplash

Hear Her Song

Hear Her Song