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Summer/Fall 2020

A Meditation on Lot's Wife

Ellen Malphrus

When we moved
out to the Galbut place
my mother left all those
little pairs of high heels—
those tiny size 5 shoes
she had longed for and loved.
Two careful rows in the top of her closet,
the ones in back perched
on their bright colored boxes—
the dotted Swiss,
the two-toned,
the blue ones,
the swirls.

We took school clothes and hot dogs
to spend the first nights—
then came weeks of sporadic next loads
when we went in with the truck for
their bedroom set,
the kitchen furniture,
those end tables with the marble tops.

Who’d ever heard of a moving van?
And anyway, most of it was left behind
like we were fugitives that had fled in the night.

In the country were all the things
they’d saved for—
crockery, couch, appliances, curtains,
an actual dining room suite—
everything brand-spanking.

In town chipped Greenbax stamp dishes
and tired chairs quietly gathered
that special dust of the discarded.

We were facing forward, I can tell you that.

But how could she not take
those fancy splurges
that had spun in the showcase
of Globe’s on Broughton Street?

And what else was she really leaving behind?

Before word went out to the cousins
that came with baskets and crates
and picked over our past
I slipped a secret pair into my book bag—
the black ones with the shiny red bows.
But when I got them back to my new
shag carpet bedroom
I could only pet the soft leather—
my feet bigger than hers
since the fifth grade.

If she were here now would she tell me
of her uncharted desert,
about pillars of salt
and why those shoes
kept her walking—unworn.

Or could it be she had somehow
lost interest in stilettos and
the only denial was my own
uncertain inkling
that desire
can grow tired
of a dream.

[Check out Ellen Malphurs' back porch interview]