A strip mall warehouse of machines that
my grandpa would take us to on Sundays,
where we’d visit with the glass box fortune
teller, ride on the three-horse carousel,
or get a glimpse of the world’s largest
chicken bone. The place, packed like
the bedroom of a regressive hoarder. Pinball,
penny games, and a prize the shape
of a dancing bug inside a wooden box,
all of Michigan here in this back-alley building.
Tic tac toe with a chicken, a mad scientist
animatronic that would give me nightmares
for years, a ten-cent handshake with Uncle Sam.
Days were infinite in this suburban paradise.
As far as I was concerned, grandpa would
never die, or be dead, and we would never
have to leave this place of holy play. The band
of monkeys would perform as long as we had
dimes, and the neon glow of bar sign Betty Boop
would be a permanent sun. Humpty dumpty
wouldn’t fall: pneumonia wouldn’t kill a healthy
man in his seventies: I wouldn’t be eight the last time
I am there. I picture the faded pink awning,
the walls without an inch of actual wall, and I’m
home again. In the whimsy crowd of the decor,
arms swinging for skee ball, my body is where
it should be. Curiosities, oddities, and peculiar
wonders. Whatever I leave with is what I am:
a handful of tickets, a photo booth print, the years
I had him.
Danielle Shorr (she/her) is an MFA alum and professor of disability rhetoric and creative writing at Chapman University. She has a fear of commitment in regard to novel writing and an affinity for wiener dogs. Her work has been published by Lunch Ticket, Vassar Review, Hobart, Split Lip, The Florida Review, etc. and is forthcoming in The New Orleans Review and others.