I had an uncle who could make an origami swan
from almost anything: a napkin, tinfoil, a lampshade,
a license plate. All day he sat at the window
of his room, folding the trees with his eyes,
making wings for the sky. For his last decade
he never spoke a word. But when it was his time,
we all knew. He folded himself from the corners inward
and then again in triangles. When the nurse came in
to check on him, he was gone, the sheets smooth
as a pond at first light.
A new Goodwill opened down
the street, in a supermarket that stood
empty for a dozen years. Now it’s full
of other people’s pasts. Baby clothes
outgrown. Golf shirts out of season.
Shot glasses of the newly sober. Yawning
shoes of the dead. The security guard smells
of bourbon. Eyelids at half mast,
he strides among us, tame as a llama
at a petting zoo. Like the rest of us,
like these racks of sweaters and pants
and dresses and coats, he has been
discarded. Set by the curb. The radio
plays the great hits of the seventies.
I pick out a pair or striped pants
for $2.50. From the right pocket falls
the last owner’s divorce. From the left,
a nasty case of crabs.
About Charlie O’Hay
Since 1987, Charlie O’Hay’s work has appeared in over 100 literary publications, including The New York Quarterly, Cortland Review, Gargoyle, West Branch, and Mudfish. In 1995, he received a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship in poetry. His first collection of poems and photographs, Far from Luck, was published in 2011 by Lucky Bat Books (Reno, NV) and is available in both print and Kindle formats via Amazon.com.