Poetry

Summer Bummer, 24 (176.)

Oh, that’s why the AC is important.
One ten-minute trip to a grocery store,
maybe a three-minute drive there
and another three-minute drive home,
and I’m sweating like a stuck pig who’s
afraid of blood and public speaking
and is standing behind a podium
before a crowd
for some absurd reason.
We’ve all been there, I’m sure.
Anyway, I didn’t bleed before, during, or
after my trip to the store,
but I did
walk through the aisle labeled “Hand Soap”
more than once
because I couldn’t spot the hand soap.
It was also the aisle
containing hair dye and shampoo “for women,”
so I felt
anxious and creepy.
I was only looking for hand soap,
but it might have looked like
I was looking for a date
in the worse possible place
at the worst possible time
during a terrible pandemic.
Don’t panic, hand soap is here.
It was moved into a weird standing display
in the middle of the walkway
between the grocery section
and the pharmacy,
and I just don’t look hard enough for stuff, I suppose.
Stepfatherly admonitions bubble up from
my far past,
but I push them down,
grab a bottle of soap,
Tetris it into the crook of my arm
with the two cartons of Silk vanilla coffee creamer
and the box of Q-tips, er, cotton swabs,
and make for the fastest self check-out time
I’ve ever accomplished.
Mask and gloves on, dodging fellow shoppers,
doing a poor job of it and muttering “Sorry”
from behind my shield,
get into the car
and at last,
I am free.
Sweaty, but free.
The caress of that sweet AC
felt like manna from fucking Heaven.

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