by John Grey

I push my cart slowly
toward the front of the store.
I dread checkouts.
I despise the two women ahead
of me in line,
the way they slouch,
the way their eyes
are suckered in
by the headlines
of trashy magazines,
the mediocre things that
fill their baskets.
What’s worse is
I’m standing the same way,
looking over the same magazines,
loaded up with the identical cans of soup,
frozen dinners, plump soda bottles.
And the crawl gets to me,
the unendurable wait
and then, when it’s finally time to move,
the effort it takes
to nudge the trolley forward.
I feel like I’m
weighed down with all that stuff,
like I’m stumbling through life
with a mass of groceries
gripped to my chest
or bearing it on my back.
Ahead of me,
I can hear the steady beep
of the scanner
as if we are all being relieved
of our burdens,
one by one,
with the flick of a cashier’s wrist,
with the deft hands of the bagger.
I slap my cash down on the counter
like they’re twenty dollar thank-you notes.
But they lumber me once again with my groceries.
I’m heavier everywhere but in the wallet.
They give me change and a receipt…
a list of what I’ve bought, who I am.


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