Department Store Time Machine

We’d walk into a JCPenney, probably
looking for suit jackets or black shoes, serious,
before a funeral—something to bring me home
before the holidays—and be transported back
before the west coast; college; most of my love life;
before I stop hating high school; my first girlfriend;
before I work at that very store, or, further,
before you work there before me, Sundays, weeknights;

before my first kiss at the multiplex next door;
before I start shopping in men’s; teen’s; twelve-plus;
before my bright white communion shoes turn brown;
before Oscar overalls; Batman pajamas;
before it stops being just you and me. But not
before I learn to walk without your hand, sneakers
velcroed, so I can hide inside the clothing racks
as you pretend not to know where I’ve gone.

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