Thursday Poem

Shopping Alone Only For Myself
at the Neighborhood Hy-Vee

The young woman with the perfect banjo butt
can't make up her mind: peaches or beans?
With a full cart and her perfect postern
she is blocking aisle 4,
so I take the long way around.

She has soft dark eyes. Into her cart
I place secretly a jar
of cara mia artichoke hearts,
adrift in oil. She takes
both the peaches and the beans.

Yesterday, in a paper, one of my students wrote
I picture Helen of Troy with long dark hair
and big brown eyes. A flawless complexion
and a perfect size 6.
Into her cart

I slip a small brown bulb of garlic.

She doesn't know I exist. She
rejects a dozen immaculate sunkist oranges
before choosing one. Into her cart,
just under the bacon,
I place a lemon.

The more numerous the foreign items
I snake into her cart
the more beautiful
she becomes. At the cash register
she doesn't so much as blink an eye

as one by one the items are tallied. Such poise!
Without description Marlow describes the wife of Menelaos:
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Under the overhang
I watch her all the way to her car,
rain making a seaport of the vast lot.

When at last
I move from the harbor
I am pulling toward some sense of beauty
I must retrieve,

whatever the cost,
my resolve that suit of armor
perfectly tempered by rhyme and reason
and blessed by the high improbability
of the gods.

by William Kloefkorn
from Going Out, Coming Back
White Pine Press 1993