A widow collects her life,

  and the evidence of her spouse’s,

         yet stacks of flannel shirts


remain, sleeves crossed in contemplation,

  wingtipped shoes curved with the proof

         of feet. From cartons cobwebbed in corners,


I dislodge gravy-stained linens from meals

 forgotten, tangled wind chimes and their melancholy

         song. Cradled among impossibly


narrow T-shirts, jeans paved with patches:

   my vibrator swaddled

          like a mummified baby.


I recognize it, of course.

  Remember the afternoon in the drug store

         where I spied the flesh-toned package,


an image of a woman on its front,

  device to forehead,

         eyes raised to some benevolent god.


I thought I had entombed the vibrator beneath photos

  of old loves. Offered my pre-marital pleasure

        to the eager jaws of a trash room incinerator.


And what pleasure. Each lover exquisite

  now in the tumble of memory: pink and white, olive or cocoa,

          pillow-haired and whisky-tongued.


But, it gave pleasure too. The motor’s early hours purr,

  a melody to savor later when meetings droned

         and co-workers grated.


For the Altos, I bake buck-a-slice chocolate pudding cake. Pack

  water-blemished sheet music, faux Hermés scarves,

        a bread machine that never met a kitchen.


I consider adding the vibrator, too, but no one would buy

  a used vibrator at a garage sale. Even this one that,

         I discovered this morning, still hums.

Tina Barry

Tina Barry

Tina Barry is the author of Mall Flower, poetry and short fiction (Big Table Publishing, 2015). She is a two-time Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee. Her work has appeared in The Best Short Fictions 2016, Drunken Boat, and Blue Fifth Notebook, among other publications and anthologies. A long-time Brooklynite, Barry now resides in a village in upstate New York.
Tina Barry

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