Bidding at the Auction

by Katharyn Howd Machan

The crate of old black goblets went for cheap,
people holding onto their money for the good
stuff to come around. A dusty harp, a basket

glittering a bit but too frayed by dreams
each sold for a buck to a gray-haired woman
tidily dressed in plaid. A mirror. Clocks that

chimed and clocks that clicked and clocks that
hid white mice: a thin man purchased every one,
then disappeared into the crowd. The auctioneer

began to wipe his brow with a cloth, then held
it up with a wink, a leer: who’llgivemefive

hands flew up and the fever was on, blood
what this crowd had come for that night, dark
magic the bargain worth its weight in gold:

scimitars, wolfskins, ovens, stained shoes,
and I, just the head of a pale talking horse,
was the very last thing to be sold.

Copyright 2016, Katharyn Howd Machan

Katharyn Howd Machan, author of 32 published collections (most recently Wild Grapes: Poems of Fox (Finishing Line Press, 2014), is Professor of Writing at Ithaca College. In 2012 she edited Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology (Split Oak Press).

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