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Matthias Merkel Hess, Crates, 2011

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The Things We Carried Up

Valerie Stark

You don’t owe us anything, but we did carry your things up four flights of stairs.
Crates of comforters and twinkle lights.
Cartons of textbooks.
Boxes of pennants and posters and picture frames.
We’re glad we were worthy of gracing the picture on the top of the pile, even if we’re
the ones who slipped ourselves in the frame for you.
We know you bought your friends pizza and beer for helping out.
That’s fine. We can buy our own pizza and beer.
Maybe we’ll stop at the pizza shop where we’d hold you up so you could drop
quarters in the jukebox and play “Barbara Ann.”
We left you some quarters, but we bet you aren’t playing “Barbara Ann” for your
friends. That’s just an “us” thing.
Besides, the quarters are for laundry. (Don’t forget about your laundry.)
Then we’ll box up the pizza. We’ll go home and we’ll carry more boxes up more
flights of stairs.
Crates of baby quilts and nightlights.
Cartons of picture books.
Boxes of teddy bears and T-shirts and toys you outgrew too fast.
They’ll be here waiting. You’ll want them someday, and we’ll watch them for you.
You don’t owe us anything.

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