Stephanie Shlachtman


This brain. Like a suitcase in my arms. Momma

calls it my threadbare Lost and Found.
And Momma is apt to misquote the dark: Palpitations

pick locks and so [I] might as well tear

the fabric and reveal the hidden pockets.

But Momma, repressions weigh, by nightmare’s

scale, one metric ton of sodden earth;

I’ve packed more than enough for detours
in the basement stacks where eyestrain searches
for proof of monsters on microfiche. It’s so
much more than I need and, still, nothing
to wear—or nothing beautiful in my size. (Minutes
are minimalists, the decades, packrats.)

Why not attach wheels for me, Momma: I could roll

the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/ly conduct of
a beast from place to place.

And it is hard-bitten of Momma to suggest: Unpack

it all and toss it aside—the hand-me-down howls,

musty midnights, and wool shadows. So easy

for Momma with her half-full tote; my
travel companion in a slip dress and ballet flats.

STEPHANIE SHLACHTMAN teaches at a private school on Long Island. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Stony Brook University and holds an M.S. in Education from Dowling College.