After I come back from a long run,
my wife sends me to the grocery
for fresh garlic, pears, more wine,
a good loaf of bread. There, I help
myself to samples, a cookie, a coffee,
and balancing these, I slackly steer
the cart with an elbow until I encounter
an old lady blocking the produce aisle.
In black church clothes, she squints
at something cupped in her hands.
At first, I think it’s a list or a recipe
then I realize it’s a small bible.
I see her again in the baking section,
her face still inches from the book
nothing in her cart. The third time
I realize she’s near, right behind me,
in the checkout lane, I’m tempted
to reach out and make sure she isn’t
some figment risen from a childhood
I thought had been sealed off long ago,
an admonishment for my spending
this day as a contented animal,
unshaven, unshriven, piling upa cart of this world’s pleasures.
from Love and Other Collisions (Press 53)