Claire Skinner

Value World

The smell here is fur, rot, and ordinary disaster:
cracked teacups, some kid's
wind-up toy, and fake flowers overflowing
from a plastic basket.

A man in beige pants follows me
up and down the aisles as I finger the chenille,
the racks of dusty leather. He's smiling at me,
vaguely, as if he knows how I speak

to my mother when I'm angry. A woman from the shoe aisle
shouts that someone has touched her inappropriately
but everyone walks in the other direction
and I look away. I didn't promise
I was kind. I'm trying

on a pair of pink velvet shoes
that fit, perfectly. I plan to wear them
in the other version of my life, where these shoes are new
and I'd never leave the aquarium so dirty
I felt certain my fish would die. Oh,

never mind. This blouse is silk
and creamy gold. This dress from Ann Taylor is beautiful, almost

not old, except for this stain on the thigh. This red dot
means it's on sale, $2.99.

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