The Age of Last Purchases – by Barry Peters

The Age of Last Purchases

You’ve done the math, figured family
history, actualized diet and exercise.

Submitted DNA. And this purchase here?
It’s your last refrigerator. That, your last stove.

Last washer, last dryer. Last television machine.
Last cat you’ll open the back door for.

Thank god, the last mumbling manipulatives
of your last car salesman. Last chance

to kick the tires, but you opt out. Never have,
never will. What is this kicking the tires, anyway?

You could look it up, google it on your last
cellphone, but the keyboard’s too sensitive

under your quivering fingers, trembling
echoes of how your elderly father struggled

with the petal-thin pages of the old dictionary
he kept in the silverware drawer so he could settle

dinnertime arguments: spelling, etymology, the year
of the Louisiana Purchase. Why it’s called the Dead Sea.

So he could have the last word, close the deal
once and for all, without getting up.

Barry Peters and his wife, the writer Maureen Sherbondy, live in Durham, NC. He teaches in Raleigh. Publications include The American Journal of Poetry, Best New Poets, New Ohio Review, Poetry East, and Rattle.

Statement by Featured Artist, Shelley Thomas: In a way, the poem’s inventory reads as a litany, the supplication made when one is at an age of acceptance. Time to take stock of the collection of items and objects, the miscellany of a life.  The speaker’s list-making is both an act of collecting and letting go. I’m reminded of things left behind, vestiges that often find their way to shore. I often wonder about the genesis of what are often simple, ordinary objects. Where did they come from? Who held them last?  The photograph is of a collection of washed up silverware, found in concentration along one Bay Area cove.  They reveal possible telltales of WWII--still visible despite sea patina. Indicators of a life lived.
Art: “Dinglehoppers,” 2020 (San Francisco Bay, California)