By Marie Ellen Pacha, 2006

The bell overhead rang,
as I opened the door.
My feet scuffed through the dust,
as they moved ‘cross the floor.

The ticket stub was clasped
tight in my hand.
I presented it silently
to the withered old man.

A gilt mirror just behind,
and to the side, on the shelf,
reflected a blurred,
younger view of myself.

With eyes that saw clearly,
and a face still unlined,
I could see in those eyes,
the dreams that were mine.

I was lost for a moment,
remembering those days;
the laughter, the tears,
and the childish ways.

The eyes that I looked with
had seen so much more,
than that day long ago
when I first walked through the door.

A prism of light
pulled me back from my thoughts.
To the paper he held,
and the thing that I sought.

He smoothed out the wrinkles,
and peered at my name,
looked in his book,
for the item I claimed.

Stared over his glasses,
and looked at my face,
then to the counter,
where a box filled the space.
“I couldn’t come sooner,
my ticket was lost.
I’ve come to redeem it.
Please, what is the cost?”

My voice was a whisper,
as I spoke the words.
He paused for so long,
I was not sure he’d heard.

“My life interfered,
and then blurred my sight.
It’s time now for redemption
I know that it’s right.

I’m sure after this long,
your charges have grown.
I offer you all
the possessions I own.

For that box full of hope,
and dreams and my heart.
I need it now,
to make a fresh start.”

His voice was quite gentle
as he answered me.
“Most of my customers
eventually see.

That I’m just a keeper
of dusty old dreams,
And all of these treasures
can’t be redeemed.

The price that I ask,
you have already paid,
in a life full of losses
and sacrifice made.

He gave me the box.
And I moved to the door.
I paused only briefly,
as he said something more.

“Thank you for your patronage,
and please do come back.
If you’re searching for something,
we have what you lack.”