Duluth, we said when a browser asked.
Omaha, we said to another.
Omaha? they said. What’s in Omaha?
It was a good question, but in truth
we weren’t moving, just using
the drama to draw shoppers.
How much is this lamp? said a lady
in yoga pants. Everything’s labeled,
North told her. Another lie:
we left labels off the expensive shit,
buying us time to spot the weakness
in each person. Sold, I said
when she opened way too high.
Brainerd, Mankato, Des Moines:
whatever sounded likely in my mind.
Between customers North cracked
jokes, had me going, but my secret
was that if I’d been alone I would have died
of shame. I recounted the money.
Get it? he said. Get it? trying to break
my concentration. And the sale
went on like that: Where to?
What’s in St. Louis? What’s this cost?
Why would you want to live there?
Honolulu, I said, testing
somewhere better, farther away.
A year later when I actually moved
it was less than a mile.
Anders Carlson-Wee is the author of Disease of Kings, forthcoming from W.W. Norton in October 2023, and The Low Passions, a New York Public Library Book Group Selection. He is represented by Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents. Visit AndersCarlsonWee.com