Shopping at Marshall Fields

Stranded among the white pine and heartbreak
of University Avenue in May, my wife leaves

to search for a blouse. My chair surrounded
by young bodies, twenty-year-old whips

who will later slip out of the mall in their brand
new cars and vanish into the isthmus, into houses

lit in winter snow. They weigh in, primping
before the mirrors, holding up skirts two sizes

too small, flashing orange and pink hideous
garments, so wild and vulnerable I hate myself

for wanting. Under the frill and design of Snap Dragons
the outlines of ribs and shoulder blades startle

as if already evicted. I am nothing to these women,
just a middle-aged married man with tattoos,

estranged and miserable in this palace of perfume,
watching them careen toward their reflections.

They are the bright flowers I cannot put my hands on.
My wife’s disappeared into the racks and I am waiting

for snow to fall, enough to cave in this roof and cover
my eyes. I am waiting for someone to arrest me.

Jay Nebel‘s poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Narrative, Ploughshares, Tin House and other journals. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two children, and drives a juice truck for a living.