The Steal


The Steal 

she was a collector

of things

married to a 

collector of things 

and knew values 

she’d known strategy

for rushing in

to an antique sale when

the doors opened ~

he went left, she right

like Black Friday 

shoppers rushing

for a golden egg  

stories upon stories 

of wheel-and-deal steals:

“I got it!” she’d said

about that golden glass lantern

that never 

actually got wired 

to the house

“You should have seen

her,” Dad said, smiling

with that amusing pride

that even preacher husbands 

have for their wives

when they act a little

bit badass, 

“when she cherry-picked

the first edition books

blocking a nemesis 

shopper with a lead glass 

bookcase door” 

“I got ‘em!” she’d announced

across the crowded room 

so in her golden years 

when she got sick

and lost her mind 

she didn’t lose her

prowess ~

it remained her 


modus operandi 

even at Christmas 

when Dad held his own

version of a novelty

white elephant gift swap

for the family to ‘fight” over

the out-of-circulation

Golden Isles of Georgia 

jigsaw puzzle or a scarf

from China while 

avoiding the duds

like that animal 

balloon twisting kit

for beginners

he brought out an eclectic assortment

of wrapped novelties 

from their home museum 

and set them around the tree

like pre-passing

inheritances ~ 

gold in the hands of

anyone lucky enough 

to own them 

my son’s new wife

one of those unassuming

natural beauties 

who has never figured

out how gorgeous she is

inside and out

unwrapped the puzzle

everyone secretly coveted –

an exact replica of the same 

boxed edition 

I’d unwrapped a year ago

and put together 

piece by piece 

with the family 

I’d treasured the experience 

with so many hands together

in what I knew would be 

mom’s remaining time 

that I’d glued and framed it 

as if it were one big group hug

forever preserved in time 

and as we all rode the wave

of Christmas joy 

that the puzzle

had landed right where we’d hoped,


in her greatest-ever steal of the day

invoked the first-opener option

to swap her gift

she rose from her chair

and in a final twist 

of a wheel-and-deal steal 

exchanged her balloon kit

for the puzzle 

as the air left the room 

and a roomful of teary eyes 

found the floor 

“I got it!” she triumphed,

turning slowly back to her chair,

puzzle raised feebly in the hand

of a weak, shaking arm 

2 Replies to “The Steal”

  1. Oh, Kim. How much do I love this? Let me count the ways…I can't. There are too many to count. The personalities, the vibrance of your parents – these leap from every line. Your parents are PRESENCES. Real and personal. The preacher having pride for his wife when she acts a little bit badass…the truth and warmth of this – and the grit- makes me love them both!! Every line a tribute to your mother's strength and spirit, told, I know, from a place of aching but nevertheless with wit and pure admiration. Scenes of smiles and laughter, even as your mother's health declined. Heart-piercing. This is why we read memoir. And write it. To tap that wellspring of strength pouring forth from others (that they may not be walking this earth anymore does not mean the wellspring runs dry).<3


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