Barbara Shinn

Barbara Shinn is a retired pathologist who is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. She has long resided in Dallas, but it should be the Carolina coast. Pistachio is her favorite shade of ice cream.

My sister says I remember nothing.
Echoes of locker room ridicule,
prom night solitude,
the after-school smell of unwashed depression,
are packed in an over-stuffed suitcase 
as at vacation’s end,
dirty laundry spilling out the sides,
straddled to close,
long residing dust-covered under the bed.

I am much better at packing now.
Train wreck marriage precisely compartmentalized,
(takes up less room every year).
LLBean toiletry bag, purple-orange plaid, 
holds memories of quality time with the kids,
graffiti aerosol side pockets for son,
tiny angst pouches for daughter.

Sexual improprieties are discreetly rolled 
and stuffed along the sides.
(Thongs, which take up no room, 
uncustomary during the sexual revolution.)

My father’s bewildered look 
at the nursing home,
“tough love” at my teen’s totaled car,
guilt and parental failures of air balloon enormity,
are wrangled into an entire partitioned half.

Fear I keep in my carry-on,
ever ready for that  2 am phone call,
the gnarly mammogram shadow,
secured so as not to tumble out
while diving for M&Ms.

All in all, a neatly packed ensemble
appropriately tagged. God help

when dementia
springs the locks.

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