Three Family Rummage
Signs sang locals up the crest of Hill Cr.
with the deal hungry who looked and sought
what and where did those hubcaps come from
while we sat grandma’s lap on the davenport
green for sale the back porch, in and out of kitchens
garage boxes filled with old shirts and coats
toys and useless trinkets, dishes priced at top dollar.
My mother, my aunts tailoring every one time need
counting the money in the box, joy to squelch
the haggler. “Well…I couldn’t take anything lower
than twenty dollars for that coat. It’s brand new
and the seed company patch is quite unique.”
And the kids are looking at the toys and I am
trying on an old shirt of my grandfather’s
while the poker face people hit the pavement
with some old junk for a few dollars here and
springs Veronica pushed on an elderly lady
with a walker thinking her neighbor boy could
fix her bed with them. And Father Upanup
out of his classics lurking in the books
ready to ask for them, a donation to the church
perhaps. All the while my aunt’s holding onto
stuff out of spite. She laughed at the ridiculous offer
of fifty cents for a Monopoly game. And here
I thought the idea of a rummage sale was
to get rid of stuff, to clean house, to unburden.
But, as always, my family would consider
the money angle, greed over clutter. A thought
glory flash of timing and profit, old supply sold
to the poor and the needy, the selfish and greedy.
Tyler Farrell was born in Illinois and grew up in Milwaukee. He has published poems, essays, and reviews in many periodicals, and a biographical essay for James Liddy’s Selected Poems (Arlen House, 2011). He teaches writing and literature at Marquette University and currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife Joan and their two sons. He has published two collections of poetry with Salmon, Tethered to the Earth (2008) and, his most recent, The Land of Give and Take (2012).