To my new friends, it was still the ‘80s.
They spent each long Saturday afternoon
wandering the mall, always looking,
never buying. Only I would return
with a bagful of cardigans and pencil skirts,
with flats and a girdle I never wore.
I wonder what my friends would make
of the dead malls of America now, stripped
of the brand names they wore on t-shirts
and baseball caps. Now Trees of Heaven
crack fountains, replace plastic palms.
Mold spills over fountains and white brick.
But Tippecanoe Mall remains,
or so late-night Google tells me.
I imagine entering the time capsule
where I recognize no one, only the stores.
I pass by men’s shoes; search for
Lazarus or Lane Bryant, both vanished;
stop at the store of smocked blouses and
long, pastel skirts, clothes we snickered at.
I imagine leaving empty-handed despite the lure
of those linen blouses and skirts. Outside,
in worse heat and humidity than lingers in memory,
I wait for the bus back to the city I knew:
brick sidewalks, the Wabash River, sites of the stores
women my mother’s age would remember,
the house I lived in, shaded streets I walked on.