The Museum of American Opulence

by Maryann Corbett
We own too much. I'm thinking about a time
in the days when all we had in the world was each other,
a one-bedroom basement apartment, some wedding presents,
and a heated waterbed in a homemade frame.

Carless, we'd scrounge a dollar forty in change,
stand in the subzero windchill in early December,
climb over snow piles to board, and take the 6
to the flagship Dayton's store in downtown Minneapolis,

to look. To gorge ourselves on staring at glitter,
at crystal chandeliers, at spotless chrome,
at the glassed-in cases where jewelry sat on velvet,

and then upstairs in housewares, the hundred patterns
of china and silver, the piles of towels and blankets,
the wild abundance long foretold by the prophets
and certain to be our own if we lived right.

And then we'd bus home, frozen and empty-handed,
red-faced, laughing, tumbling into the bed,
owning nothing, practicing pure desire.

© 2007 by Maryann Corbett. All rights reserved.

Maryann Corbett’s poems have appeared in Measure, Alabama Literary Review, Rock and Sling, and elsewhere. She lives in Saint Paul and works as a legal-writing teacher, editor, and indexer for the Minnesota Legislature.