I’m longing for finality like the curtain’s
wheezing touch in the dark at the end
of a double feature, or pennies tinkling
through a hole in my pocket, my fingers
wiggling in search through a scratchy opening.
Something is lost.
            What’s gone is gone.

            Remember penny candy?
In the candy store on the corner by
my school in the Bronx, the counter
was an endless pool of wax bottles
with colored liquid, necklaces of circles
you could eat, paper strips with button
discs. Their sweetness encased in my memory,
a museum vitrine mixing the painful clench
of stuck teeth with tastes sliding
in an artificial ooze of flavor.

            Penny for your thoughts.
That always annoyed me. Men said it with a leer.
My teacher called me pensive and I thought
it must mean something like expensive
but not. Something poor or cheap like my shoes
with heels falling off while stepping on a bus
and nails pressing up into my foot all day. Like pennies
lying there, dirty on the sidewalk, where no one bothers
to bend and reach down and pick them up. Almost useless
now like elegant handwriting or polished silver.
            What’s gone, is gone.

            There’s so much I can remember
and so much I forget, like washing fresh strawberries
in the aluminum sieve at my kitchen sink. Dirt runs into
the drain. Going round, a circle that
never touches, a wet spiral runs down. It’s here in this
moment, the glisten of red berries, the water puddling,
the thoughts draining. Wait, the grey fog comes
            to gather up it all.

Aileen Bassis is a visual artist and poet, living and working in Jersey City, NJ. Her artwork in photography, printmaking and book arts has been widely exhibited across the US. Poetry is a recent passion that threatens to devour her creative life. Her poetry will be published online at Mobius: The Journal of Social Change.

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