Grocery Store

By | 15 February 2023

A grocery store clerk asks if I’m ready to check out
No, I say. A song I think I know
twinkles overhead
& I ask the clerk if he knows it but he just shrugs.
I say c’mon, you’ve gotta know this song, but he doesn’t.
I imagine he winks at me,
gently takes the plastic basket from my hand,
& slips the tank-top strap off my shoulder.
Don’t start, I would say
I just need a donut. I take my basket to the bakery.
The case is full of stale bear claws
& I stuff fistfuls into my mouth while the plexiglass door
swings shut, rustling the paper in the case.
I leave the pastries
& go to the deli to stare at bowls
of colourful salads that taste like mayo
& green no.3 food dye. But in my mind,
they are good. I order a 1⁄4 pound of some jello-o thing
& head to self-checkout because I can’t
bear to make eyes at that clerk again. The green salad
shimmers like some alive thing in the plastic container,
like maybe I did see it move in the bowl earlier.
From the parking lot, the stars are barely visible
& I remember they’re mostly dead.
I wander around
& nobody notices
so I pick up a warm beer off the curb
& drink.
That same song comes on from the speakers attached
to the light poles. Goddammit, this song. Does anybody know
this song? Does anybody know it?

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