Trying on Alternate Selves at the Abandoned Mall
The mall my mom took me to in a stroller shut down a shutdown mall is the opposite of a pelican— it feeds nothing with its body dies like a politician, taking servants with him that fountain for pennies is now broke and dry, the atrium where my mother bought me slurpies must look like a shipwreck now; half the stores didn’t have lights on when I gave myself brain freeze. The light in a mall is unearthly, makes me feel like a bug caught between the god of a light bulb, and the smooth glass of his church, once, in a mall, I stepped with timid feet into the men’s section I felt the three colors of fabric in my hands and put on the shirts that have the give of an octogenarian helping his spouse ease into a coat I avoided the eyes of teenage boys, who must scare themselves with categories the man behind the counter had surprised eyes, but didn’t say anything salespeople have always been the priests of transition and I wondered what he would do when the mall shut down At the bottom of the ocean, gender is inconsequential fish swap it out like fashion, swim from one section of a shipwreck to another, and strip all us humans of our meaning
One March, my mom lost a hubcap on her cherished red Corolla, standard shift. We drove around Columbus looking for it. She parked on the shoulder of a busy road, waded ankle-deep in mud, It’s mostly decorative! she yelled at my anxious face, hoisting up homeless hubcaps holding them up, like an artist, like an interior decorator propped them on the stems of stop signs, someone will come looking for them she nodded imperiously shifting gears— poor Serenity Prayer! The middle child. Serenity Prayer buckled next to me, throwing a fit, kicking the driver’s seat. Me and Serenity Prayer laughed together hubcaphubcaphubcap what does it mean? What’s it for? I think mom’s going crazy and Serenity Prayer and I play Punch Buggy but Serenity Prayer always punches too hard.