But I Never Shoplifted

Roaming the dime stores on the square

I never shoplifted a single thing nothing

slipped into the pocket of my skirt by

surreptitious hand, dutifully checked out

the flat red case of cake mascara, saved

for weeks for the bright pink flask

of Ambush, paid for the metallic buttons

to go with material studded with

tiny green flowers for a Little Boy Suit

So I’ve spent years trying to figure how

I let you steal so much, listened to words

you spun faster than the whole vat

of blue cotton candy whirling

with its siren song at the state fair

filaments wrapping around me

your sticky cocoon encasing me

even as my tongue slipped between

strands to lick again that sweet sugar

In one swift afternoon in that park

you took it all and I’ll admit I let you

but didn’t count on being caught

with stolen goods the penalty

a matter of a life then while you

absconded with the next best thing

So I cadged trinkets to hold onto

what I came to call the best parts

like finding the sticky caramel center in

a Tootsie Roll Pop, the licking all

a process, the price you have to

pay to finally chew the prize and yet

you pass the stick again and again through

puckered lips, but I never shoplifted.