Home > Poetry > Miltown
Published: Mon Jul 1 2013
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

When they unearthed the finned Plymouth, Tulsa’s
time capsule, they had a list of contents. Good thing:
fifty years of mud wrecked the car, photos, notes. We know
what they put in the glove box: a typical woman’s

handbag filled with “a typical woman’s things”: $2.43.
Bobby pins, cigarettes. Lipstick, tranquilizers. Tranquilizers?
Tranquilizers. Was the Junior League teasing? Or
the Time Capsule Committee? Smoky rooms of suited city hall

employees, the Sub-Committee on the Purse led by closet cases
sneaking peeks in their wives’ bags in the name of science, the future,
historical accuracy. The typical woman’s handbag filled
in earnest. But in Perelman’s The Road To Miltown, he writes

“I don’t know anything about medicine, but I know what I like.”
Sarcastic, wry. So Tulsans maybe understood each other. Mommy’s
little helpers? Winks and nods, tones of voice unknowable
now. Motive: the first thing we lose to history.

Jill McDonough is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Here All Night (Alice James Books, 2019). The winner of three Pushcart Prizes, she is a former Stegner Fellow and has received awards from the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Cullman Center. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Slate, The Threepenny Review, AGNI, The Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. She teaches in the MFA program at UMass Boston and and offers the course College Reading and Writing in a Boston jail. (updated 9/2019)

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