Attractive discounts for everything one could need.
As I enter through automatic doors,
I am terribly hungry.
As the old saying goes:
“Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach”.
Every aisle teasing my appetite
with a vast selection of food and beverage.
I make my way to my
beloved buffalo wings.
Why not get dessert?
I treat myself and grab a carton of
Ben and Jerry’s cake batter ice cream.
Salivating at the snacks I hold
I race through the store
debating if I want anything else.
Taking a shortcut through a few aisles,
I bump into a woman.
My cheeks redden to cherry.
I quickly apologize.
I strive to be a polite gentleman.
I am taken aback
by her haggard appearance.
Dark shadows sag
beneath her fatigued eyes.
It seems as if she
did not even notice.
Without looking at me,
Her voice croaks with a harsh rasp.
The hopeless and pained tone
to her words makes me uneasy.
I pause and stare,
her scornful demeanor puzzles me.
She reaches for a can of baked beans.
The tremor in her hands struggles to grasp the can.
Before she realizes
that I was awkwardly watching her,
I scurry out of sight.
The idea of a sweet drink entices my thirst.
I walk to the opposite end of the store
and snag an Odwalla smoothie.
I am now ready to pay and leave.
I realize that the same woman
is in front of me in line.
It is half past ten on a Wednesday night
so the wait is short.
The cashier scans the can of beans
and the women passes over
a crumpled dollar bill.
He lets out an exaggerated sigh, stating:
“Ma’am you are eighty nine cents short.”
The woman’s shaky hand
clenches into a fist,
as the other snatches
the dollar back.
Her shoulders sink
lower than her
already defeated posture
and she shuffles out of
Sympathy overthrows my mind.
This woman can’t eat dinner tonight?
My stomach wrenches and I am…
I feel responsible and obligated
to help this woman.
Absorbed by the tornado
of emotion storming my mind,
I completely forget I am next in line.
The cashier is now glaring at me
and repeating the price for:
My buffalo wings.
My ice cream.
My fruit smoothie.
How could I eat ice cream tonight
when this woman is starving?
I aggressively blurt.
Fellow employees shame my outburst
with silent scowls.
I leave my items and dart out of
I need to find her, and help.
The dark of this night
and the dim parking lot,
subvert my efforts.
Minutes pass and finally I spot a figure.
Across the street,
disappearing into the distance.
They are hunched over,
pushing some sort of cart.
Plastic bags are tied to the sides
and a blanket drapes over the
figure I strain my eyes to see.
I can’t be perfectly sure.
I know it is her.
And she is gone.
My lips quiver
as I light a cigarette.
I have failed.
You could have eaten,
you would have known
I now despise my privilege.