In the express lane, I frantically
count items. Ten only, ten only.
If I have eleven, will the clerk notice?
Will she humiliate me, declare
a bunch of grapes, a thousand items?
Store’s so hot,
the guy ahead of me steams.
Behind me, a woman with a dozen eggs
(how many items is that?)
shifts a baby from hip to hip.
The kid reaches for my hair with sticky fingers.
Grapes, toilet paper, bread, milk and peanut butter.
Lean Cuisine, mayonnaise, head of lettuce.
Can of peas, can of beans, shampoo.
Eleven essentials. One extra item,
only one. Let go of my hair!
As the clerk calls me next,
I change lanes.
On the freeway,
trapped between a Toyota
and a semi, I squint
at the exit sign 300 yards ahead.
Names of streets
are doing a hula in the hot, yellow haze.
I turn on my signal,
squeeze a inch forward,
sneak a glance at the driver
in the turquoise Corolla.
He plays I Don’t See You,
keeps edging forward.
---he wants to shift left,
I want to shift right---
this ought to be easy.
Eggs over easy, one wrong move
wrecks breakfast. I hold my breath,
Home. Alone. Haven from choices.
No question where to park
in a one car garage.
Microwave Alfredo, peas in a sauce pan,
sit down to Judge Judy
in the only good chair.
I know this routine, bless its sweet boredom.
Tension uncoils as I sip my iced tea.
I pick up the frame,
study your photo, crinkles of laughter
framing your eyes.
A picture in winter, still tanned from summer,
hair turning two-tone, still darker than mine.
I stick out my tongue--
half in jest , half in earnest--
at the face and its challenge to all I hold dear.
What the hell, one more time.
I’m changing lanes.