Of Novelty Store Statuary, by Gabriel Meek

Handle a plastic Superman and wonder
how many held him before, whether
the paint-chipped kiss-curl
happened on a playground or in the swirl
of boxes inhabited since.

Do you rescue him? Is this act—
to purchase, wash, and shelve to gradually re-gather
dust until you bore, toss aside, spring clean,
sell back, change hobbies, or die—rescue?
Or responsibility to keep this carbon from the earth?

The proprietor, trader of recovered treasures,
steps from behind the counter to spin tales
of replacement bands, foam, and undyed glue,
of the recoveries made from estate sales,
oblivious Goodwill bins, abandoned obsessions.

You ask about the toy in your hands.
He tells the myth of its craft, the exact year it was cast,
its rarity, design, colors, accessories:
a provenance trusted more than most marbles’.
A known past pairs with the unknowable history of hands.


Gabriel Meek is a poet, teacher, and designer from Spokane, Washington, where he received his MFA from Eastern Washington University. His recent poems have appeared in Eye to the Telescope, NonBinary Review, Star*Line, and elsewhere. He is fond of museums, movies, and monsters.