“The Contents of My Purse”

Published in the Santa Fe Literary Review (2017).

The Contents of My Purse

Gum to chew when you’re talking over me; keys; cell phone and charger, obviously; glitter pens to absentmindedly swirl your name, those fat Sharpies to blot it out; tampons for surprises—including, to be clear, nosebleeds and spills; that book you told me to read forever ago, with no bookmark and not even one page dog-eared; a smooth stone you found way back when we used to walk by the river every week; business cards—mostly other people’s, but a few of the ones for my paintings with my old phone number crossed out; my name tag from work, a smear of long-dried-but-still-sticky gravy over the last three letters; wallet, stuffed thick with receipts and pictures and credit cards I can no longer use; a small notebook for random reminders, phone numbers, grocery lists and angry notes to shove under your door; quarters for downtown parking on the off-chance you offer to pay for dinner—even just coffee—if we meet up; a plastic airplane bottle of chardonnay; mace for might-be-muggers; that ring you gave me, the prongs around the little glass gem crowned with lint; a coupon for two-for-one steak dinners, probably already expired; the first—only?—letter you ever wrote me—the envelope folded in half and in half again, then tucked into a side-pocket and accidentally through a tear in the lining—the scent of your cologne still lingering rich and spicy on the crisp paper, perfuming my bag from silky depths I can never quite seem to find.

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