El Williams III

The Wallet

upon her death, i obtain’d my grand-
mother’s wallet. snatch’d it off the dining
room table at an idle point during
the family meeting. having fetched it many
times, many times i was a grand-
son running errands. what grandma called her
legs. be my legs for me today?

i put the wallet with other relics.
my mother’s journal, papers deemed meaning-full,
wedding photos and photos of cousins we
hadn’t seen in years. a trinket that
meant some-thing and nothing at once,
in the world of the past, where
things entered through grief, exited through longing.

one night, i heard the wallet from
the closet or it was my grand-
mother’s voice etched into memory. be my
legs for me today? or i was
dreamin’. drivin’. runnin’ in and out of
the drug-store, the grocery store, the
hard-ware store, and lastly, white castle.

i woke up in exhaust. i woke
up in sadness. i woke up and
walked in the blind-black like a
mad mummy, pushing my way to the
closet. i combed through the world of 
the past, feeling for the thick, jagged 
leather, hooking a finger in its fold.

El Williams III is a Cave Canem fellow and MFA candidate in poetry at Indiana University. A St. Louis native, he has received fellowships and scholarships from Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, Tin House and the Watering Hole. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, River Styx, Shade Literary Arts, Vinyl Poetry and Prose and elsewhere.