If I don’t lose it

this is the last wallet I’ll ever have.

I’ve got it all lined out now, penciled in.

As the leather wears, so will I,

the rest of the way.

Broken in, life down pat,

just as it all wears away.


I remember the wallet I lost at fifteen.

It was like my dad’s—

shiny black calf’s leather for a birthday—

but Dad’s was old, buffed by wear

stretched and rounded by mysterious bulk.

Mine so light, was it in my pants or not?


It fell from the back pocket of my white

navy-style bellbottoms while I watched

a matinee at the Fox Fullerton.

I think the movie was The Happening

with the Supremes’ hit song of the same name.


I don’t remember what I had to keep

in a wallet when I was young and hapless.

I must have had some money now and then

from paper routes and mowing lawns.


I recall a picture of a girl

tucked away in there: the lingering whiff

of leather scent is sexual and warm.

I can see a face, hear a name and feel

the weekend afternoon, the tree we climbed,

the fort we dug in black suburban soil

but cannot reach the photo held so deep

in the slots and sections of the billfold.


So she and I, the matinee Supremes

their song the tree the fort the afternoon

my father, all will fall to crevasses,

the creases and wrinkles of red-grey time,

the convolutions of my dying brain.

Not only will my memory of her

be gone but I myself will not exist.

Someone else will get the wallet. It was

already dead.