by Sara Moore Wagner
They built the Ikea in the middle of fields.
If you go far enough past it, you’ll find
the upper Mill Creek Conservation sight
where the ash trees snake into the air,
where my husband and I sometimes walk
with our babies in strollers, feet pounding
the path made through the wetlands.
Now, when it’s cold, we go to the Ikea,
sit in the café on the second floor, up
against the large windows looking out
over the highway, over our exit
which they’ve renamed Union Centre,
swapping the R E to show
just what kind of people live
in the sprawling neighborhoods
of uniform two story mansions, what kind
of schools are tucked into the cul-de-sacs.
Our children play with the Swedish made
toy kitchen set while we watch silent, still,
mouths full of meat. Later, we buy
stainless steal pans. We do what we can
to keep our babies safe. We move to the suburbs.
We build hotels in the middle of nowhere.
Why do they keep building hotels, we ask
every time we pull off the highway, turn
towards home. I tell my children I used to live
in the city, nearer the city, could
see the lights of it from my room, had
walls so thin a train would shake them,
and then, how the night was closer, the ground
closer. I’ve lost my accent. I’ve lost
a sense of the outside as we walk the endless
Ikea aisles, following lit arrows to the warehouse
where the ceiling seems so large
it could almost be sky.
Last updated September 19, 2022