Green cactus; Red rock

Green cactus; Red rock
photo by Linda Hoffman Kimball

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ten Items or Fewer

Ten Items or Fewer
by Linda Hoffman Kimball

The woman places her items on the belt.
They shiver down toward the cashier, a parade of her life.
Salad in a bag – a splurge
When an entire head of lettuce costs half as much.
But Tom said to get the good stuff;
The dinner might mean a promotion.
Two tomatoes – vine-ripened this time.
She remembered Tom’s gripe:
“None of those tough ones like you got last time.
No flavor and hard as a rock. What were you thinking?”
Four thick steaks.
“Not too fatty, but some in just the right places
To make it extra good,”
He’d said, patting her rump, raising his eyebrow.
A box of tampons.
She can measure her life in empty tampon boxes.
Creepy leers are all he ever offers.
That's fine. That's fine.
Cheese. Mild Cheddar.
Not bleu, not feta, nothing too pungent.
Like her, the cheese needs to do its job:
Add a little bit of interest,
But not call attention to itself.
A bag of little red potatoes.
Just like his mother always serves.

All rung up, she reaches to take the bag from the cashier.
“Do you need help with that?” the cashier asks.

Too much time in the check-out line. Instead of staring at the Enquirer headlines, sometimes I imagine all sorts of things
about the people in front of me based on their grocery selections. Tell me I’m not the only one who ever does this.

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