On Visiting the West Edmonton Mall — A Poem

West Ed Mall

(Above photo taken from the West Edmonton Mall’s website.)

On Visiting the West Edmonton Mall

One day this place will close
or burn down
or be deserted to the ashen dunes of time
and its vibrant halls will echo empty

of the torrential footfalls
of so many millions of
bored vacationers and
windowshoppers and
waterparkers and
rollercoasterers and
one lonely soul
looking for a phone case

and all that will be left
is a small kiosk selling
postcards, t-shirts, and keychains
souvenirs from the heydays
until someone decides
it’s a great location
for a café or a shoe store
and the whole spectacle begins again.

***

Disclaimer: I wrote this poem within the last week. I have not visited the West Edmonton Mall since December 2016. So maybe the title seems a little disingenuous, but the piece was based on the feeling and experience I had while visiting the West Ed Mall, so it seemed like the right title to go with.

The West Edmonton Mall is…weird. If you’ve never been or you’re unfamiliar with the veritable monolith that is the mall, I highly recommend you take a look at their website or otherwise do some reading on the subject.

During my visit — which was actually the third time I’ve been there — the mall seemed almost paradoxical. The premise behind shopping malls was always meant to be convenience, right? Do all your shopping in one place, that sort of thing. And yet, in its enormous sprawl, multitudinous attractions, and extreme crowds, the West Edmonton Mall is hardly the most convenient place to do your shopping.

It’s also an altar of commercial excess in a time when malls are dying out across North America, yet the West Edmonton Mall is apparently doing fine.

While walking through one of its 800+ stores, it felt to me as though the West Edmonton Mall would always exist — always had existed. The building seemed beyond the scope of human efficacy.

Yet I know this to be untrue. All things have a beginning and an end. Even the West Edmonton Mall.

Author: Mitchell

I'm 22 and currently pursuing my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto.

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