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Charles Harper Webb

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Suitcase


Its silver clasp looks like a man grasping
his hands above his head in victory;
the latches, like twin hatchbacks headed away.

There are no wheels, just four steel nipples for sliding.
A hexagonal seal announces the defunct
"U.S. Trunk Company." The frame is wood—

big, heavy, cheap—covered with imitation leather,
its blue just slightly darker than Mom's eyes.
"It's beautiful. Much too expensive," she told Dad,

and kissed him. The lining is pink, quilted
acetate. Three sides have pouches with elastic tops—
stretched out now, like old underwear.

I watched Mom pack them with panties and brassieres
when I was so little she didn't blush.
The right front corner has been punctured and crushed.

(I could have choked the baggage handler.)
The handle—blue plastic doorknocker—
is fringed with wrinkled tags from United, Delta,

U.S. Air (which crunched the hole, flying
the suitcase back from Houston). I'd gone there
to see Mom in the "home," and save some boyhood

relics before my sister gave them to Good Will.
"Take mine," Mom said, hearing my suitcase was full.
"I won't need luggage, the next place I go."

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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