Trading Post

I remember 
trying to grow up and 
falling asleep in the classroom. 
Consumed by a sleepy oblivion. 
Fearing to leave, dying to escape. 
Most days it was harder to listen to good advice 
than to give it. 

I considered the city a refuge then, 
from the plague of small-town glory. 
From far away it appeared as a castle 
fortified by anonymity. 

But when I approached, 
I grew to understand, 
with every dollar spent, 
the city is a trading post, 
not a hideaway.  

There is always something to buy,
or trade away, 
or sell. 

Time in exchange for youth,
like small change deposited into parking meters,
time is paid forin partby memory 
andin partby chance. 

Love in exchange for heartbreak. 
More candles on the birthday cake, 
one-way flights taking off from the tarmac, 
words lost in translation. 

Dreams in exchange for reality. 
Given away until the dreams stored away 
become depleted
—you wonder how to get more—
and reality becomes distorted.
and intangible at once. 
Until it is hard to remember 
where it was you started from. 

But I am 
getting better at haggling
and I write letters home. 

I promise, 
it gets easier 
To climb out of bed. 
To take your own advice.
To dream without fear of reality. 
To love without heartbreak.
To spend time without bargaining 

away your youth. 

By Megan Loreto

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