Apr 8, 2008

Gold

Written by Dorianne Laux

Read by Michael Heffernan

Color of J.C. Penney’s jewelry, trinket
in a Cracker Jack box, color of roadside
weeds, candy wrapper in a gutter. Color

of streamers tied to the handlebars
of a rusty bike, color of rust on the bike’s
dented fender. Color of food stamps
and welfare checks, dirt swept
into the long hole of the missing board
on the back porch, the untended sore,
phlegm in the hotel toilet bowl. Color

of mold in the broken refrigerator, light
bulb hung over the dog-shredded screen,
color of curtainless kitchen windows
throbbing through the dark, color
of underwear stains, old bandages, knees
of worn jeans, filters of generic cigarettes,
brand x bottles of beer, lighter flints,
match heads, dry leaves. Color

of blocks of cheese and government butter,
rolled oats, crust of white bread, bacon fat,
two fingers of oil shivering in the pan,
chicken wings dragged through cornmeal,
the three-legged cat, two hairs left on the head
of the naked doll, the spikes in the iris
of her rolling eyes, the bottoms of unwashed
feet, seals on divorce papers, notices of default,
ancient coat hangers, bingo chips, the pawned
topaz ring, lottery tickets, mustard on a cracker,
sulfur, factory lights at night, hills of sawdust
and shallow pans of brake fluid, bees seething
in a dead tree knot, tinder in a box, pennies
in a jar, coffee stained teeth, a busted piano’s
ivory keys, bed bugs, fleas, algae scum simmering
on a pond, the carp floating beneath. Color

of the crane and chain of the wrecking ball
stranded in sun glare, the loud bell of the sun,
the clock-ticking stars, shade in the bathroom
stuck half-way down, rag rugs, lye soap,
nicotine slick in the grooves of kitchen ashtray,
the worn handles of soup ladles, tin roses
painted on the still born baby’s shoebox cradle,
brass tip of the veteran’s cane, Gold Bond powder
that eats sweat from the creases, A & D ointment,
Listerine, dirt roads, fool’s gold, litter of kittens
in the corn crib, tobacco spit, strip of light
under the closed door. Color

of unshaven stubble along the scar on a man’s
cheek, floor wax on a woman’s knees, bouillon
cubes in foil, the backs of flies in spider webs,
fishing line at sunset, honey in a bucket, dead
clover, color of the edges of bargain basement
books dropped in the bin, dust rising in gold
motes onto the long tables in the public library
where the homeless come to sit in rows, heads
fallen on their folded arms like good school
children, taking a nap.

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