And roses, too

Sandy stands in the designer-wear section
of a suburban department store
in her best jeans and a cheery holiday
sweater picked up at the Goodwill.
The Muzak versions of Christmas carols
leave a hollow ache in her chest.
She fingers red velvet and gray wool,
presses the arm of a blue silk blouse
to her cheek. Despite her desire,
she does not dare approach the dressing room –
today, she just can’t bear the suspicion
and disdain that would meet her there.
Later, in home furnishings, she snuggles
into a huge wingback chair, comforted by
its golden arms wrapped around her
until the salesman comes along, asking
with a sneer, May I help you with a purchase?
She shakes her head no, and walks away
but she wants to ask him if he knows
where she could buy her life 

And roses, too.

Jeanetta Calhoun Mish is a scholar, poet, and essayist. Her recent books are a poetry collection, What I Learned at the War (West End Press, 2016), and Oklahomeland: Essays (Lamar University Press, 2015). She directs the Red Earth Creative Writing MFA at Oklahoma City University.