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In the supermarket
a woman pushes a cart
half-full of dry cereal and Kraft mac-and-cheese.
Her hair is dyed brown,
lipstick tasteful and dried-out.
Her body is getting thicker,
her jewelry is plastic.
She is thinking about a triangular piece of red white and blue
folded in her shaking hands
on a hot July morning;
her baby boy is sleeping in again.
She’s worried she won’t be able to wake him today.
Calmly she lifts a jug of cranberry juice from the shelf and into her cart-
her hand is very careful
there is a two-for-one sale,
so she repeats the motion
and continues down the aisle
as the guns are raised in salute
and his bed sinks out of view
with handfuls of soil to keep him warm.
The refrigerators hum
and watch her
as she gently places a carton of
one dozen Grade-A farm-laid snow-white eggs
next to the juice
and turns her cart on its side, a great
the eggs spill their yellow and white
apologies, the boxes and cartons
spread themselves and their contents
across shocked tiles.
Cranberry juice runs like blood through it all
and she throws herself down on the mess.
Yolk sticks in her
chestnut brown number one-hundred-seventeen
chemical coloured bob
and a terrible howl tears out of her,
waking the dust on stacked cans.
The sun is warming the flower arrangements;
they wilt slightly
as the last words are spoken
and muttered sentiments shuffle into their respective vehicles
and pull out
to grateful sighs and shared hugs, handshakes,
She leaves eventually, too,
back to her empty life
and lies curled in a fetal position
in the middle of a refrigerated supermarket aisle
tearing her dry hair out,
crying her dry heart out,
cranberry stains on her dress and egg white on her stockings.
She’s so tired;
she never gets to sleep in
like he does.