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The Purse Thieves

There was the arm, the black
pricey number barely on her

white shoulder in broad daylight.
Why first did she have to look

to my face when she screamed
stop? I did nothing

but look up from my gas pump—
yes, held tight like a gun,

before I looked back down again to witness
nothing but my shadow. I saw nothing

but two boys who looked like me
when I was that age and always mistaken

for being older. I mean, I felt nothing,
except that my body was not my body

anymore; stomach shoved aside
to make room for two more; I was an animal

raised to be slaughtered in the name of a
pricey leather number dangling from a shoulder

waiting to be stolen. It all happened so fast—
my shadow bled into their shadows,

for a moment, a second, an eye-blink,
as we fled across the lot. We

were at play together in a race
like brothers. And like brothers,

just like that, the shadows broke apart
and we were separated again. I saw nothing

but their bodies shoved back
into the back of a white van and

I slid back into my white car
as if I might chase them down

to save them or
I don’t know. I did nothing

but brought both hands to my face.
I heard the wheels of the van peel the afternoon

like a mask I thought could never be removed—
a skin. As the police sirens grew larger,

I pulled my hands from my face
and placed them on the steering wheel.