Joan Mazza: “Bargains”






We arrive before dawn and shine
flashlights on battered dressers,
bookcases and tables. The wide,
overstuffed chair and ottoman
I want for my screened porch is up front,
among couches and rockers
in stages of shabbiness.
Writing SOLD on masking tape with a Sharpie,
I slap it on. We choose two smaller chairs
for Kevin and Jess, dig into cartons
for canning jars, make a stack
of small wooden frames for Thea.

On the ride back, I wonder
at the wisdom of adding this chair
where I might sprawl and read
until heat or cold forces me inside.
It’s clean enough in daylight,
but I remember the couch I put out
to the curb for bulk trash. Within an hour,
someone snatched it up, ignorant
of the tick infestation.

When I broke off my engagement to Bernd,
he packed his stereo first. I moved
the couch away from the wall
before he could stop me. Crumpled
tissues two feet deep avalanched
onto the rug. “I didn’t do it!”
he said. “Who did? The dog?”
I turned to his friend helping him
move and willing to rent him an empty condo—
“Good luck. He doesn’t bathe.”

Michi lets me know she sniffs something
inside this not-new chair. “Mouse?”
She barks and runs twice around it.
I lift the cushion to find wrappers wadded
so tight they could still hold hard candy.
From the crevice under the arm,
I pull tissues, the packaging for Snickers bars
and Butterfingers and long strings of dental floss
Michi begs for. I run to wash my hands.



About the Author: Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist and psychotherapist, and has taught workshops nationally with a focus on dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The MacGuffin, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia.


Image Credit: Bernard Gotfryd “American antiques auction at Greenwich Auction Room, NYC” (1982) The Library of Congress

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