Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

BACKORDERED

Wendy Mnookin
Prairie Schooner, Vol. 86, No. 3 (Fall 2012)

Each morning she drank her tea
and then stamped the used tea bag
onto thick creamy paper.
She did this day after day,
weeks became months,
until she had nine tea bags across,
thirteen down. When I understood

how long I’d be in bed,
I took my time with catalogs,
thumbing through pages,
folding corners. I decided on
sheets, a cheerful sunshine yellow,
with Swedish mystery flowers.
Backordered, the woman said.

They don’t look like tea bags.
On the print above my bed
they’re intricate fossils,
bird bones set in shifting sand,
edges wavy, not quite fixed.
You don’t understand, I said.
I need those sheets.