Saturday, December 24, 2011

Spotting the TV Stand at De Pere Christian Outreach Three Days before Christmas

By Jen Hunt

As you dashed to the thrift store
You prayed the bin of
Packaged Rudolph noses
Spied on your last visit
Would still be there
Which was quite honestly your only mission
Going in
The stand to house
The 40” Flat Screen
Purchased on Thanksgiving
Was not on the list
At least not
Your living room deserved better
(Chimney stockings
Another matter)

When Lo! an obscure chest
Catches your eye
Its top drawer adorned
With peeling decoupage
A Depression child’s dresser
You suppose
Its tongue-in-grove seams                                                  
Promise pure wood
Under the grooves
But your route to a closer look remains blocked
--As misfortune would have it--
By a stout glass-topped piece
At knee height
Or was it fortune?
Because when you turned
To move the obstacle
What did you spy in the opposite corner
But a frayed but honest stand
Marked “$15 NEW”
Probably a Shopko store sample
Bruised by the coil of humanity
Pushing shopping carts
And eyeing specials
On Black Friday
You surmised

You rushed to the fading grayed teller
In the red Penguin sweats
To ask to mark it SOLD
Which she did
With great pity
“It says NEW here, ya know
But I can tell you it ain’t
See all them scratches?”
She warned
And you had

It is quite possible
You yourself had
Already passed the table weeks before
Telling yourself smugly how
It wouldn’t do
The stain was too light
The surface too marred
And weren’t you proud you had finally learned from the foul
Water-stained number disgracing your den
Of which you might never be rid that
You only get what you pay for

The stand may or may not fit in your van
Parked on freshly-lined asphalt just outside
Good thing the kids were still at school
For now
So the back seats could go down
But fit it did

It was 1:00
Your boys have a way of spotting cast-offs
Ten miles out
And snubbing their noses
Like a mother bird smelling on her chick
Human scent
But if you can get the cargo into your living room
Primped and clean
Before the kids return at three
There’s a chance
It will be accepted
(That would take a miracle)

Perhaps the tint is too orange you wonder
As you jostle
Your catch into the daylight
 “Nothing a little touch up
Pen can’t fix” you say
Pointing to the
Hideous scratches swathing its form

The volunteer retiree
Carrying the end opposite
Nods half-heartedly
Unconvinced it can avoid
Next week’s trash bin

No time to lose
You lug it alone
To the den
Loud bangs all down the hall as you go
Before charging your
Wood de-marker marker
With the impossible task
Of making the thing tagged NEW
Look the part

Maybe one hour
Of frenzied scribbles and burnishings
And a tap or two of polish later
And you will re-right yourself and stare
In awe
Unsure quite how
Like a Charlie Brown tree
Your stand has transformed itself
While your nose was down

You believe
Were you to add ten zeros to the tag
And wait at the door for their arrival
Once they spotted
The stand
In the corner of the living room
Your sons
Would be unfazed
At the price

Christmas Eve will come in two days
And you will place the stand
Beneath your new flat screen
And weep the tears
Of the generous,  the wise and
The unworthy all at once
To have come on such an unlikely gem
For so cheap
A bit like Mary in the stable
So long ago
As she thought of what took place
When she hadn’t been looking
And all that was born
On her knees

Your sons will have good news to tell their friends this year
You hope
As you round the last round-about

Waiting for a 40” Inch Flat Screen at Wal-Mart on the Night of Thanksgiving Day

 By Jen Hunt
You are thankful
It is warmer
Than years past
So warm
You could leave your coat
In the van
Parked in the shuttered store’s lot
Across the road

Though it’s dark
You can be forgiven
The morning nod
You gave the yellow-vests
Flanking the doors
Like Sunday’s ushers

At nine you snagged the tail of
The flat screen line
And once in, there was
No exit
From time to time
Checking your pocket
For the tiny paper
Proving you  yes  you belonged
In the Doorbuster Book of Life

You heard the mad howls at ten
When the pallet of PS3 games was
Torn open and
Emptied in five minutes
Thinking how tame the food lines
In Somalia
Pressed your sons closer and
Tried to balance
Atop the toilet roll bundle
Bracing your frame
The hours they seemed

At eleven you gazed
Past the ant trap aisle
Toward the arc of humanity
Pushing carts
And scanning circulars
“On my way back from
The restroom found DVD’s for two dollars
Got my sister taken care of
Get one for you if you like?”
Offered one gold-goateed comrade
Before confessing
He digs his girlfriend’s mom

You can be forgiven for
Missing laptop spoils
Because you did in fact
Eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day
You can be forgiven for twice
Losing your offspring in the crowd
Forgiven for offering them cured
Beef snacks from a baggie
Right there on the floor

It is not even midnight
Your yams have not digested
It will be some time
Before the countdown to twelve
Amid New Years-esque chants
Before the midnight queue
When the woman in the black burka
At the back of the store
Will complete your sale
Once the phone lines are back up
And the competitor ads have been tallied

And don’t forget
The last line you will take outside
In the dark
Around back
When a boy hauls the large box
To your trunk
Warning you to 
Warm the chilled contents
One hour before use

Tomorrow the sun will rise
On you
And your box
Then you must arrange your den
To fit it
Find a stand
To bear it
And a cloth
To cover it
Until Christ’s Birth Day
Surely your sons
Will have good news to tell their friends this year
You hope
As you sit on your bundle
And wait
On Thanksgiving Day