“Where I’m At” by Anders Carlson-Wee

Anders Carlson-Wee


I’m alone, sipping water in a café
when the barista says, Excuse me,
sorry, someone asked me
to give you this, and hands over
a fifty-dollar gift card.
There must be a mistake,
I say out of shame. But I know
it’s for me. It’s like Aladdin’s,
the thrift store where I hunted
deals for months before realizing
Moonflower, the owner,
was making up discounts
out of pity, because I was looking
so hard. Or the time a stranger
found me sifting through a Walmart
dumpster, newborn baby
strapped to her chest, snowflakes
catching in his wispy
black hairs, and passed me
a wad of twenties, saying,
I’ve been where you’re at. No,
I wanted to say. You’re the one
with a baby. But as quickly
as she came, she cupped
the newborn’s head and stepped
across an ice patch
toward her car, and I said
the only thing there is to say.

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019


Anders Carlson-Wee: “As the son of two Lutheran pastors, I grew up on sermons. I tried hard to not listen, especially during my teen years, but I couldn’t resist a good story: my parents both preach in a personal narrative mode, telling stories of daily human experience as a means to evoke the sacred. This preaching style has had a large impact on my writing style. As for why I write—if I understood that, I don’t think I’d have the drive to spend the energies of my life pursuing it.” (web)

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