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, winner of two Pushcart Prizes, is the author of three poetry collections: Habeas Corpus (Salt, 2008), Oh, James! (Seven Kitchens, 2012), and Where You Live (Salt, 2012). The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Library of Congress, and elsewhere, she teaches poetry at the University of Massachusetts Boston and directs 24PearlStreet, the online writing program at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. (4/2013)