I wandered the mall 

without parental guidance 

to get something festive for my mother

she liked anything we ever gave her

things that remained in their gift boxes 

tucked in a safe place for a special day


I was tempted to take one of those old gifts

rewrap it 

to see if she would remember it

I was too young understand 

treasured memories


did she need atomizers 

bath oils 


I touched sweaters 



clerks would glance at me glance away


I was stumped

I knew all about my mother

she liked to drink tea 


watch TV

make clothes for my sisters

that was an idea – bags of yarn

no that would turn into

gifts for my sisters not her

she rarely wore the jewelry she had

would read reread the same mystery books

maybe something 

for the kitchen


to remind her of her childhood


I wanted one thing that would be hers

she didn’t need another tea mug 

tea pot

more imported teas 

to store behind the one she really likes 


I floated from one store the next 

noticed some woman 

tagging along 

not looking at me 

when I look at her 

I head for the exit she stops me


you find what you were looking for? 

I shake my head no 

I’m not so sure about that – come with me 

kids think you can get away with anything 


we go to the security office

empty your pockets 

she searches my coat 

pats the lining 

tells me what’ll happen for shop lifting 

go to jail – my parents will be ashamed 

we kids are all the same

look so innocent and can’t be trusted 

she finds my wallet 

my money

my dad’s list of things for my mother 

looks like I was wrong honey 

she pats my shoulder 

now you run along home 

I went outside

mom’s little boy no more 


how did I wrap that 

Shopping for my mother was fairly easy for many years until, as the character in this piece, I wanted to be able to get her something besides the Evening in Paris that I usually bought her. Evening in Paris (https://wp.me/p1RtxU-VE) was a drug store scent. Yes, even before drug stores forced you to walk through the cosmetics to get to the vitamins, they were fonts of female betterment products.

There was one Christmas when I did buy her a variety collection of teas from around the world. Each type in its own special little canister – most of which were found a few years later tucked in the back of a shelf under a counter. I may have mentioned in a previous post that after my Mother died in 2002 my sister did find some of the gifts we have given her – initialed hankies, bath salts etc. still in their original packaging, stored in a safe place.

The mall in this piece was the first build in Sydney – a covered one with a Kmart, or was it Kresge’s, at one end and Sobey’s at the other end with shops along the walk between. Those shops were women’s clothing, sports equipment & eventually a book store. There may been a bowling alley as well. It was the only mall for decades & hurt the downtown merchants financially.

It was my shopping destination when I had to shop for gifts. The Christmas in question is more of a vague memory than it appears here – much of this is a composite of what I supposed I was looking for – a completion of many shopping excursions over several years. One year I was stopped by a floorwalker and questioned about my aimless search. I explained what I was looking for & it didn’t escalate beyond that.

She did say she was sorry for stopping me though. After that I was nervous in Kmart for a few months when I went in but I got over it when I successful shoplifted something once. The only time I took such a risk there because was I was good boy. I love the ending though I doubt if at that time I could have thought something that emotionally complex. I had enough on my mind figuring out my sexuality. Something I knew I had no of wrapping. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

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