I nearly blew right by in my hurry to the subway
when I heard someone say, “Isn’t autumn lovely?”
And as I stopped to observe that this was correct
to the proprietor, I couldn’t help but inspect
the folding table by the railing laden with her goods:
ashtrays made of metal; little angels made of wood;
hand mirror with the handle broken (still pretty nice);
wall-wart to charge a telephone; trays to make ice.
The advice of my neighbor, “Go ahead, take your time.
We’ll negotiate price on whatever you find.”
And then shining in the detritus, I saw the brightest
flash of something precious. I began to feel the slightest
little tingle in my innards. I was like, “What’s that?”
Then her bare-tooth chuckle, “It’s a buckle for a strap
on a hat, like a lady wears to court or church.
But it holds a special property. I’ll tell you how it works.”
It was a stoop sale,
which is a garage sale if you live in Brooklyn,
which I do.
And at the stoop sale,
which is like a yard sale except that it’s in Brooklyn,
I got my due.
Somehow I knew she was serious. I reached to pick it up,
but she stayed my hand. Her reprimand, it was abrupt.
“This little trinket,” she said, “grants wishes.
It can make everything you ever eat delicious.
It can take away concern so you can sleep at night.
Can make the love of your life and you reunite.
Can right wrongs done in your past or in your future.
Make a winner out of whoever whoever owns it roots for.
But it only ever does one thing.
As you take possession of it, that’s the wish to which it clings.
So choose very carefully before we make a deal.
If there’s anything impossible you want to make real,
if there’s anything improbable you’d like to assure,
it will happen. And that’s when you have to endure
the regret that accompanies said decision-making:
all the other wishes in the world that you’ve forsaken.”
Could it be true? I wondered as I stared at the clasp.
Would some skills on the microphone be too much to ask?
Had a couple dark notions that involved revenge,
fame, glory, money, people love me and it never ends.
Shook these from my head like they were so much sleep
and thought instead I’d pretend that I was so much deep
as to offer every human in the world true peace,
so that we never kill each other, never get cooties,
never go hungry, suffer shelterlessness.
This generosity I felt compelled to dismiss
by my greed to see an old friend back living.
If I go the wrong direction, though, could I ever be forgiven?
While I stood daydreaming, somebody’d got a hold
of this little brass buckle, and he must have been so bold
as to put it in his pocket without it getting bought.
Saw him do it. He was wishing that he wouldn’t get caught.