marshall fields
Marshall Field’s, December 1988
by Jessica S. Frank

Printer ribbons fly
over blank paper spools
chirping chorus of capitalism
like calling birds singing
in their Morse code.
Violins over loudspeakers
play “Deck the Halls” as we
ride down to the lower level—
               Little girls.
Pretty ladies in fur-trimmed collars
buy Frangos for company,
popcorn poppers,
holiday tartan dresses for their daughters.

A nine year-old grabs her father’s hand
as they walk between counters,
only two Christmases to go before
it would all explode:
the divorce, the slow death of a grandfather,
puberty and Persian Gulf;

It all goes silent.
Changing technology, sleek receipts
muted by new laser printers.
Retail therapy barely a whisper
down the escalator
Girls now upstairs in Juniors
fighting with their mothers over
price tags and short skirts.

PHOTO: Walnut Room, Marshall Field’s, State Street, Chicago (now Macy’s).


PHOTO: Jessica S. Frank, as an angry kid, being forced to write a letter to Santa.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I don’t know if I have a creative process, other than writing when I’m supposed to be doing other things.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica S. Frank grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, where she found out the secrets of life through many trips to Woodfield Mall. She is a graduate of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.Poetry is Jessica’s main focus, but she has been known to write a little fiction, some memoir, and a few newspaper articles here-and-there. Visit her at  (Author photo by Christina Beam.)