It's a very Nebraska kind of day.
By that I mean that on Tuesday, it was sixty degrees and today it's four.
Welcome to my state.
When I'm feeling Nebraskaesque, I think of Ted Kooser. The basements of Goodwill stores feel rather Nebraskan to me, too, though I imagine they are of the same stripe wherever they exist.
In the Basement of the Goodwill Store
by Ted Kooser
In musty light, in the thin brown air
of damp carpet, doll heads and rust,
beneath long rows of sharp footfalls
like nails in a lid, an old man stands
trying on glasses, lifting each pair
from the box like a glittering fish
and holding it up to the light
of a dirty bulb. Near him, a heap ...
(... read the rest here at the Poetry Foundation.)
What interests me about this poem is that I can identify with it in so many ways. The whole Goodwill thing fascinates me. I am the one who has cast off, the one who has purchased, the one who has worn something as a joke, the one who has shopped because of true need.
(The only trouble with donating to and shopping at one and the same Goodwill store is that there's the danger your child will paw through the stuffed animal bin and say, "Mommy! This is just like ours ... Mommmmeeee! This is ours!")
At Goodwill, I've seen everyone. There are the moms like me, families who live on one income and so reuse, recycle, and shop for jeans at second-hand stores, because this is reality, and in prioritizing, we'd rather buy fresh fruit and books than a new pair of pants that will be outgrown in a month. There was, one day, a woman whom I know to be rather well off, shopping in Goodwill, dressed in a very old coat and a hat pulled down far enough to nearly cover her eyes. I wanted to tell her it was okay to be there, that it's good stewardship, that she shouldn't worry so much. And there are those who are the old man in this poem, "old and thin and no longer particular," those whose need is far greater than mine, those who find glittering fish, and who, as we see in this poem, are reflections of ourselves.
And, in a final irony:
A few years ago, I searched my house from top to bottom for my Ted Kooser books. He had visited for a reading when I was in college, and I knew I had a couple of his poetry collections around here somewhere, didn't I? Where were those books? It seems, alas, that in a frenzied fit of cleaning and decluttering, I must have given them away. To Goodwill.
The entire Poetry Friday round-up is here, at Mommy's Favorite Children's Books.