the collector


i.

there was a lobster, bright red, like it had already
been thrown in the pot, but at the time she didn’t know
how they cooked lobsters, didn’t know they had to boil
them alive, didn’t know if crustaceans screamed.
there was also an iguana, a moose, a pelican. she was
fastidious about keeping their tags intact at first
but didn’t know much about market value and gradually
they became bent and worn, water-washed and smudged.
she still loved them all as best she could, a shepherd
among a flock of beanie animals lined up along the bed.

ii.

she scoured the books because she collected quotes so
she would always know what to say and when to say it.
there were death quotes, which she used at funerals,
uplifting or depressing depending on how she felt
about the deceased, there were quotes about love that
she didn’t even need to feel while she were saying them.
the best were the holiday quotes, because they were
so easy: she just inserted the holiday with the same
phrases like ‘time for giving’ and ‘time for family’
and everyone smiled at her and she smiled back.

iii.

it happened first almost by sheer luck–she had been driving
and witnessed a collision. getting out of the car, there
was nothing but the sound of a hubcap spinning to a stop
on the ground, and someone’s wrist with a silver watch on it.
there was no question in mind that it now belonged to her.
she began hanging around the streets waiting for an accident
to occur. she acquired a baby rattle, a pair of smashed glasses,
a scuffed tube of lipstick. she would take them home and put
them next to the faded iguana and the yellowed books. she was,
after all, a collector of things no one would miss.

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