Monday, July 25, 2011

Fancy Shower Curtains

Idle Sunday, hours of no account, eyes aimed at blue waves and summer, mind seeing another side of the world. Late in the afternoon, the bright red of another Garrison Keillor anthology caught my eye and after a dull poem or three, I stumbled upon a diamond, or at least another view of department store sales. Here is a poem by Faith Shearin from her 2002 collection The Owl Collection.


My husband and I stood together in the new mall

which was clean and white and full of possibility.
We were poor so we liked to walk through the stores

since this was like walking through our dreams.

In one we admired coffee makers, blue pottery

bowls, toaster ovens as big as televisions. In another,

we eased into a leather couch and imagined

cocktails in a room overlooking the sea. When we

sniffed scented candles we saw our future faces,

softly lit, over a dinner of pasta and wine. When

we touched thick bathrobes we saw midnight

swims and bathtubs so vast they might be

mistaken for lakes. My husband’s glasses hurt

his face and his shoes were full of holes.

There was space in our living room where

a couch should have been. We longed for

fancy shower curtains, flannel sheets,

shiny silverware, expensive winter coats.

Sometimes, at night, we sat up and made lists.

We pressed our heads together and wrote
Our wants all over torn notebook pages.

Nearly everyone we loved was alive and we

were in love but we like wanting. Nothing

was ever as nice when we brought it home.

The objects in stores looked best in stores.

The stores were possible futures and, young

and poor, we went shopping. It was nice

then: we didn’t know we already had everything.

A good poem, wouldn’t you say?

Faith Shearin’s first book of poems was The Owl Question, published in 2002. A second collection, The Empty House, came out in 2008. Her more recent work has appeared in North American Review and Sweeping Beauty: Contemporary Women Poets Do Housework. Ms Shearin is a recipient of a 2009 NEA fellowship and lives in North Carolina.


  1. An excellent poem and it reminds me of how Ben and I reminisce about our travels and picture ourselves living that dream all over again. Remembering brings back the joy of the travels and reminds of of the treasure of those memories. It's all about how the mind can take one to various places.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America