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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Claus

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

no girl

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

me too.

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