Want  by Nancy Schatz Alton

All day I wrapped up want.

Measured the wrapping paper

against each book.

Folding, turning, creasing each fold

until the flatness was satisfying.

Tape torn then placed and sealed.

Ribbons cut, wound, tied & tightened.

Packaged and handed to each waiting customer.

The want in the giving is great:

how will the receiver receive my gift?


I wrap up my want in each book.

How I want each book to be wrapped just so

just beautifully enough to please myself

& then the customer.

Each mistake I make a ping of dismay.

Each interaction stark inside my head.

How easy to see my want

as I work the bookstore shift—

I want to be good at what I do:

even this simple wrapping of this beautiful book.


I wrap myself up in the wrapping

as my tender neurons ping through interactions—

my book editor—‘hey you’re one of my authors’

my old best friend—a real hug, all loss behind us

a steady stream of acquaintances and regulars.

Fold, turn, crease, ribbons and bows

perfect rectangles & messy stories

that fold, turn & crease

into something new with each telling.

I wrap the day into a shape that leaves the wanting behind.



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