The Getty

by MICHELLE TINKLEPAUGH


you were a sorceress
a storyteller
a traveler

we sat on top of our bunk beds
our floor painted red
looking out the window

you pointed to the red Getty sign
glowing in the distance
“Shelly, I’m gonna take you there one day”
you said

“The Getty is a magical place where
there are lollipops as big as your head”
you said tapping your knuckle on the
top of my head

I was in awe of how much you knew
“Inside it is lit up with Christmas lights all…year…long”
“No one yells at anyone
children are treated like royalty”

the look on your face made me a believer
as you stared off into the distance
your eyes wide
your hands painting this picture in my mind,
dancing wide arcs and hushed symbols

It might’ve been a month later or a day
that you were gone
for the weekend

when my mother packed me into our
maroon Ford Escort
It was so new the ashtray was still empty
and pulled up in front of The Getty

I held my breath
her enormous beige purse
hid my view
until we were at the door

she pushed it open
and I heard it jangle
like Santa’s sleigh bell

squinting into the harsh fluorescent light,
the smell of gasoline assaulting my nose,
my mother at the counter buying cigarettes
from a man with blackened fingertips,

tree air fresheners wrapped in cellophane
hanging behind the counter,
along with shelves and shelves of motor oil.


About the Author

Michelle Tinklepaugh’s (aka Watters) poetry has been published in various literary magazines, most recently Misfit magazine. She has a poem forthcoming in The Inflectionist Review. Michelle lives in South Burlington, Vermont with her husband Jeremy and her daughter Annabelle.

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