American Life in Poetry: Column 577


My father spent his life in the retail business, and loved almost every minute of it, so I was especially pleased to see this poem by David Huddle, from his new book, Dream Sender, from Louisiana State University Press. The poet lives in Vermont.


Fifteen I got a job at Leggett's, stock
boy, fifty cents an hour. Moved up—I come
from that kind of people—to toys at Christmas,
then Menswear and finally Shoes.

                                                  Quit to go
to college, never worked retail again, but
I still really like stores, savor merchandise
neatly stacked on tables, sweaters wanting
my gliding palm as I walk by, mannequins
weirdly sexy behind big glass windows,
shoes shiny and just waiting for the right feet.

So why in my seventies do Target, Lowes,
and Home Depot spin me dizzy and lost,
wanting my mother to find me, wipe my eyes,
hold my hand all the way out to the car?

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2015 by Louisiana State University Press, “Stores,” from Dream Sender, (Louisiana State Univ. Press, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of David Huddle and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.