By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet
This poem was written about 15 years ago in January. I had begun noticing that the large grocery where I shopped was a microcosm of human oddities. If I were to write this poem now, I would have to incorporate cell phone usage into the mix of disconcerting trends at the grocery.
I used playful references to astrology because it seemed there were forces beyond control at the grocery, socio-political changes that began to appear seemingly out of nowhere.
This poem was published in Who Walks Among the Trees with Charity (Wind Publications), The Red Lacquer Room (Chiron Press), and The Alleluia Tree (Puddin’head Press).
At the Grocery
Perhaps it’s Pluto’s transit
or a mild case of entropy
or maybe your eyes don’t refuse to see
the old men bagging groceries
in January —
red knuckles grasping
at control, usefulness,
this paper bag labeled Work Ethic
about to rip down the middle
while green-haired grandsons
wear ragged, clown Bermudas in the snow,
eat only food that requires no utensils,
all the way to the mall.
Perhaps it’s Mercury retrograde
or a terminal case of mid-life crisis
or just some hot, chocolate-covered
when the perfect summa cum laude Princess
who’s been married to Prince Charming for 20 years
dumps him for a frog
who’s much more interesting on his motorcycle.
She’s wearing a black leather Harley vest,
popping Rolling Rock into her cart.
It could be Neptune in the first house
or a major case of had-it-up-to-here
or just some hot, creamy goddess worship
when at least two
crones suddenly shear their hair,
shop together, declare
that papaya looks delicious this time of year.
Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet. She received the Lawrence E. Gloyd Community Impact Award at the 2012 Rockford Area Arts Council State of the Arts Awards.
From the Jan. 21-27, 2015, issue