15 Items or Less

by Brian Duran-Fuentes

I am sorry I was so late to dinner tonight.

They ran out of Topo Chico. Forever.

The line at check-out stretched past the cleaning aisle.

No one knew their place in line nor the time of day.

The lady behind me could not find a basket,

So she held all 10 of her bags of jasmine rice

In a desperate embrace; a trail of grain

Ran all the way the freezer section. Unnoticed.

I eavesdropped while I waited

On a conversation about how baby carrots aren’t real;

They are just ugly carrots, cut to shape in a factory.

The line was being held back by a man who bought a melon

Seemingly undiscovered by modern science.

It was black with a tinge of blue.

They had to bring in the big books from the back of the store.

There were no codes to price the item,

No unspoken names for God,

No worse end than the one that never comes.

The shopper in front of me

Made sure to place a grocery lane divider as soon as he could,

To separate himself and his beer from the world,

If only for another paycheck.

By the time I got out, the sun was setting,

And the sky burned orange and pink, like children’s cereal.

I wish you had been there to see it.

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