Oct/Nov 2001 Poetry

the woman at the checkout

by Allen Itz

Art by Bob Dornborg


the woman at the checkout

pleasant looking woman
at the grocery checkout,
suburban type, blue pantsuit,
middle-aged, hair a little gray,
normal in every way, except
for her fingernails, yellow
like a dog's tooth, so long
they've begun to curl

like that illustration
I saw in Ripley's
years ago
of the Hindu mystic,
black hair hanging wild
across his shoulders, hands
crossed in front of him, fingers
splayed, nails like the bent and twisted
tines of an old leaf rake,

and the illustration
beside his, another
Hindu holy man, blind, eyes
black smudges on the cheap
paperback page, eyes burned away
from a life of looking at the sun,
seeking virtue in the light, finding
the truth of dark forever

and this woman, so normal
in appearance, koffee klatch
woman, garden club woman,
PTA woman, supermarket woman,
don't squeeze the Charmin's woman,
connected, somehow, to the
mystic search of holy men
in post-colonial India

and a butterfly raises its
iridescent wings in the warm
breeze of a far Asian shore,
and in a supermarket in Texas
the earth shifts in its orbit


Previous Piece Next Piece