What Happened While I Was Lost
We call it the Little Brown Store,
I can’t pronounce Cacciatore’s.
You say “be a good girl and stay in the car.”
You promise you’ll only be a minute,
a terrible, nebulous void for me, like naptimes.
We have to pick up whole milk
which will be gone in three days,
wheat bread - Why won’t you
let us have white?- and eggs
I wait and I wait,
it must have been
three hours by now.
Half a day at least!
Something must be - has to be - wrong
so I will go to you instead. I leave
the safety of the silver Jetta
and its putzing diesel motor,
try not to let Hobbes out,
Leave him to pant and steam up
the windows with his dog breath
By the time I reach
the supermarket I’m overwhelmed
by castle walls of canned goods
impenetrable, ramparts of vegetables
and fruit. I try the aisle
with the bread, refrigerators
frosted with milk,
get distracted only slightly
by the tank with the large lobsters
feebly waving their pinned claws.
You aren’t with the juice or the deli meats,
rows of chip bags crinkle
as I brush by, echoing
in your absence
Panic sticks somewhere deep
in my throat and tears come
before I can find you.
I must have searched the whole
supermarket, turned the aisles
inside out and traveled all the world.
And only now it’s setting in that I am
the lost one, stranded amidst strangers
and egg cartons
My name reaches my ears, rough
and crackling through the speaker.
I don’t know the voice but they promise
you. It doesn’t matter when
I find you that you are mad and I am
crying. It’s only later I imagine what
you must have been thinking
when you return to the car with a dog but
I wonder if you dropped the eggs
and the wheat bread
and the milk, the same panic sticking
deep in your throat, hoping
the crackling voice on the speaker would promise