The store was filled with frilly gowns, outdated,
mannequins with pouts that flowered their boredom.
I worked there summers, sweeping dust
that gathered potent in corners.
The owner, so old she’d lost
many intangible parts of her being.
Days when no one stopped by at all,
we played cards in the back,
lit by a lamp the shape of a boot,
highly stylized, stockinged and laced.
The owner wore glasses that curved
so she always seemed to look elsewhere.
She asked me things about my life,
details no one else thought of.
What I was taught in history class,
what lakes people swam in now,
how they wore their hair.
Then she’d nap in the back,
under a pile of $5 purses.
I manned the till, rubbing my hands,
sometimes my face, over all those coins
that kept cool through summer.
Dreamed a million ways
to save up for a brand-new town,
on a highway, sparkling with pools
and planned yards cut like gems.
Then watched the sun hit dresses just so
they swayed and swam, revived.



Shannon Cuthbert is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have been nominated for three Pushcarts, and have appeared in journals including Dodging the Rain, Hamilton Stone Review, and The Oddville Press. Her work is forthcoming in EcoTheo Review, Sparks of Calliope, and Lowestoft Chronicle, among others.