Stacie McCall Whitaker - Stone Coast, Maine

Castoff

Written By: Casey Martinson

You disappeared upon your return from the ashram,
your clothes, the whole closet, in a flurry bundled,
bagged.

When we met, you were wild for the buy one get
one thing after another, our apartment overflowing
like our optimism—what seems in retrospect
like optimism—happy to have shelves of raw pine and cinder blocks,
the Papasan battered from your many moves before your first move
in with me, your VCR/TV sticky with candle wax,
scores of cassettes, a year of General Hospital
plus commercials. I came with a goodly fortune myself,

my self an accumulation of college clutter, my green
detritus of Polaroids, ticket stubs, souvenir switchblade
from Tijuana now broken in the sepulcher of my art-school
tackle box, laid beside the celebratory cork collection,
3-D glasses from a picture gone black, not to mention
roughly five hundred pounds of books and vinyl. We carried
our life down and up stairs, three flights minimum, once or twice
per annum, each ordeal more daunting, but an adventure,
a rising Everest of Ikea, of kitchen and bath appliances,
yet more books, yet more tapes, catalogs of DVDs, shoes
to clad a small village of people with our feet,
the miniature trampoline and the weight bench
weighted ever more with dust.
Power tools.

I still remember the day we rented
our first U-Haul. You wore
that pale blue dress I always liked,
which you just gave away
as if it meant nothing.

It was buying the house, not the first,
not the gateway house,
but this house we’ve owned for—
has it been nine years? Or ten?
I remember it was winter
when we settled in. How exciting
to furnish a den: our furniture
till then had never come in a set.
Makes you feel like you’re really
somebody. On a stage of your own
making. It’s still a live performance,
but you forget that after a while.

Whatever you own owns you.
You shove with a grunt the last fifty-gallon
bag of clothes into the Subaru. I’ve persuaded you
to keep our bathrobes—they are warm,
absorbent. I say nothing of the legality
of owning no clothes—you’re not interested in abstractions.
We shiver in the garage, and you cast me pained eyes
over a cardboard box of moldering cassettes:
Can you even give these to goodwill? Or anybody?
But they’re for the landfill,
and we both know it.
That VCR/TV died years ago.
We could leave them here, I say,
and your grateful hands clutch mine: Yes, of course.
They belong to the house now.

About the Author

Casey Martinson is a graduate of Oberlin College and the Stonecoast MFA Program. He lives in New York. Find him online at http://www.caseymartinson.com.