• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 01

Emma Jane

Mothballs and dust take me back to a time
growing up in Missouri on a flea-market budget,
when Sundays were spent rummaging through antique shops
with my sister, my mother and her mother.

I meander through the jam-packed maze
of depression glass, lace doilies
and primitive potato mashers,
before landing in the vintage book aisle.

I can hardly resist the smell of aging pages
as I blow off a layer of dust, crack
the crumbling spine. Sometimes I close my eyes,
run my fingers along the typeface trenches,
titles embossed in the leathery covers of classic
collections of poetry.

Turning each page, with its coarse thickness,
reminds me of construction paper greeting cards
my kids made in kindergarten, the ones
with tempera paint handprints and
crayon squiggles.

Today, I found a hidden memento tucked snugly
into a book’s crevice, marking a love poem
by Emily Dickinson, this edition
once belonging to a true romantic soul.

Her personal bookmark, a photo of a man,
quite slender and somber, his drab brown suit
matching his melancholy smile.


Emma Jane

Glued on the back, a yellowing newspaper obituary,
“Beloved Husband, survived by four children,
five grandchildren, and his adoring wife
of 49 years, Emma Jane.”

I can’t help but wonder if somewhere tonight,
there’s an old woman, searching desperately
through an old shoebox she kept under
her bed, wanting this book, this poem,
this memento to be the last thing she holds,
before falling fast asleep.