While browsing through Garrison Keillor's selections in Good Poems [811.008 GOO], I came across "Woolworth's" by Mark Irwin. It stopped me short for a second because I had already selected a poem, also called "Woolworth's," by Donald Hall for my Poetry Friday post on my personal blog. You can see it here. It makes me wonder--what is it about Woolworth's that's thrown these two poems in my path within the space of a few days? (Cue up the theme from "The Twilight Zone.")
I did a Google "news" search on Woolworth's and came up with this article about Woolworth's, which I thought was totally defunct, but which the writer states is "Australia’s largest retailer and a high-quality company." If I were given to superstition, I might think about rushing out and investing. But, I'm not, and like Mark Irwin and Donald Hall, I'm content with remembering Woolworth's from its earlier time as a 5 & 10 cent store.
by Mark Irwin
for Gerald Stern
Everything stands wondrously multicolored
and at attention in the always Christmas air.
What scent lingers unrecognizably
between that popcorn, grilled cheese sandwiches,
malted milkballs, and parakeets? Maybe you came here
in winter to buy your daughter a hamster
and were detained by the bin
of Multicolored Thongs, four pair
for a dollar. Maybe you came here to buy
some envelopes, the light blue par avion ones
with airplanes, but caught yourself, lost,
daydreaming, saying it’s too late over the glassy
diorama of cakes and pies. Maybe you came here
to buy a lampshade, the fake crimped
kind, and suddenly you remember
your grandmother, dead
twenty years, floating through the old
house like a curtain. Maybe you’re retired,
on Social Security, and came here for the Roast
Turkey Dinner or the Liver and Onions,
or just to stare into a black circle
of coffee and to get warm. Or maybe
the big church down the street is closed
now during the day, and you’re homeless and poor,
or you’re rich, or it doesn’t matter what you are
with a little loose change jangling in your pocket,
begging to be spent, because you wandered in
and somewhere between the bin of animal crackers
and the little zoo in the back of the store
you lost something, and because you came here
not to forget, but to remember to live.
If you have fond memories of Woolworth's, you may appreciate Remembering Woolworth's: A Nostalgic History of the World's Most Famous Five-and-Dime by Karen Plunkett-Powell [381 PLU].
Steps and Staircases is the place to be for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.
Next Friday there will be no Poetry Friday posting, so come back on the 30th.