Rebecca Morton

The Layaway Drawer

A clutch of waitresses zigzagged their way across 
Cracker Barrel after my grandmother chucked 

the bread basket’s contents onto the floor. 
Everything is cold! Her criticism, same one 

as years before when she stacked my grandfather’s
bleached and ironed handkerchiefs 

on the front stoop, rekeyed the locks. I never 
waitressed but I manned our town’s jewelry store, 

an education in the layaway drawer as ladies 
came to peek at their treasures, Don’t tell 

my husband. By fall, they’d all be looped 
in yellow gold and peridot. By fall, 

the sweetgum trees’ spiked pods blanketed 
the under-canopy. As a kid I’d climb the stone-

sharp arcing limbs to collect cicada shells, 
then sink those hooked and hollow claws 

into my cousin’s perfect curls (curls all the boys 
would pull). While she writhed I skipped away 

delighted. The inside thing with still-wet 
wings and oil-slick eyes clicking its song. 

Rebecca Morton’s work appears in Sugar House Review, RHINO, TriQuarterly, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Pacifica Literary Review, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. She serves as a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal, and holds an MFA in poetry from Eastern Washington University. Rebecca lives in Chicago with her wife and children.