903 N. Knight

Shortly before we moved away, the Ben Franklin store burned down.
Is it possible that I saw, in the ashes, a single cut-glass punch bowl
as if still on display? Is it possible that I saw this from the car window
as we left for Dayton, Ohio (the last move before the last one)?
The road out of town took us past that Ben Franklin store, and also past
my elementary school: Northrop, now torn down, from what I hear.
Still standing is the Rusty Nail: a bar, or a lounge downtown
that my parents whispered about. Am I right that there was a murder?
There was something unsavory,  I know, and highly unusual for
Thief River Falls, Minnesota — this was years before the Coen brothers
punched a big hole in the folksiness of Fargo and towns for miles around.
I know there’s still a Rusty Nail because (get this!) I’m Facebook friends
with a total stranger who lived in our house before we lived in our house —
her parents sold 903 N. Knight to mine. Imagine! What a gift, not to lose places.
What a gift, when you only lived there for two years, but can still smell
the dusty screen door at Erl’s, where your smaller self bought
Archie comics and candy wax pop bottles, never dreaming it wasn’t
forever — never dreaming just how soon you’d be gone.

____________________________________________________________________________________________
I regret that this one will almost certainly not present how I intended because it needed to be in long lines, which my WordPress theme haaaaaaaaates. Anyway, today’s prompt at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads was to write a poem that incorporates names of some places you’ve loved — inspired by the Canadian poet Al Purdy.

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11 thoughts on “903 N. Knight

  1. Oh, this is a wonderful read. I can see that small girl, smell the musty store, in those days that felt like forever. A wonderful poem that took me right there. And how amazing about the facebook friend!

    • Thanks, Sherry! And yes, it was an amazing coincidence. There was a post in a Facebook group for that town, and one or the other of us mentioned the street we had lived on there, and I happened to recall the last name of the people who sold us that house — so, there was a lot of “Wait a minute … Where on North Knight? Wait a minute … what?!” We added each other as friends, which is how I recently got to see photos of both the Rusty Nail and our house — she went back to visit not long ago. And of all things, Erl’s still exists, too!

  2. willow88switches says:

    There was something unsavory, I know, and highly unusual for
    Thief River Falls, Minnesota — this was years before the Coen brothers
    punched a big hole in the folksiness of Fargo and towns for miles around.

    I really enjoyed this piece, and certainly, this part – because you’ve brought in another point of reference that adds a tangible taste, mapping the unknown for many. And I like how there is a personal flavour to this, but yet, there are universal similarities that are intimate to other places as well.

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