Photo by Robert Sanders

By Lytton Bell

Who sells used sex toys at a garage sale?
I knew I had to pull over
as soon as I saw that table full of dildos
just to hear this woman’s story

A whole bed was for sale
and a claw-footed bathtub
a motorcycle, a large stack of books
lingerie and ten photo albums
Photo albums?
Leafing through, I could see that they were all
happy couple love photos:
their trip to Hawaii
backpacking through Europe
mountain climbing in Tibet

And I shouldn’t forget to mention all of the love notes
three huge cardboard boxes full of them. I picked one up:
I stood outside your window for hours last night
while you were sleeping
hoping you would feel me there, and pull open the curtain

I approached her as she sat by the cash box
wearing a pair of oversized pink sunglasses
So, this is everything he ever gave you? I asked her, trying to be nonchalant
She nodded
I was going to light it all on fire, she told me
But what’s the point?
True, I replied, not sure what else to say
She seemed so peaceful about it. Almost happy

Just then I noticed a pile of cds:
Jane’s Joy Ride Mix
Jane’s Taking a Bath Mix
Mix for Jane for When She’s Feeling a Little Blue
And one called
In Case of an Emergency, I LOVE YOU
It was sealed with yellow CAUTION tape
and had obviously never been opened

Can I buy this? I asked her
$3.50, she said
I gave her the money and put the cd in my car
and cried and could not open it

(Today’s poem originally appeared in Rattle , where it was a 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist, and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Lytton Bell has published five books, won six poetry contests and performed at many California literary venues. Her work has appeared in over three dozen journals, web sites and e-zines. She lives in Sacramento, California. Lytton earned a poetry scholarship to the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts in 1988, where she studied with Deb Burnham and poet Len Roberts. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Bryn Mawr College in 1993. Feel free to send Lytton an email at

Editor’s Note: Clear, narrative, and heartbreaking. Lytton Bell has a knack for relaying the real. What a fascinating moment, the intersection of these two lives, and how breathtaking the way their shared story speaks to us all.

Want to read more by and about Lytton Bell?
Poetica Erotica
Buy Nectar as an eBook from Amazon
Buy Body Image from Amazon


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