On a metal shelf, nine pods of bread in short
neat rows as though at the morgue, an aisle
over from glue traps for mice. On pegs
round the corner, stuff for kids: dusty bags
of balloons that seem to quietly cry out
about missed birthdays. Handcuffs and gun.
Dairy Milk: a redundant name, I see now.
And with all the appeal of a boiler room, hard
to believe this bright, dusty place was my childhood
corner store, packed with wanted things.
This is where my dad said, “Why not?
You’re a good kid,” and bought me two Superman
comics so that I was speechless a moment.
I believe I said thanks. It was unlike a quiet man.
My mother enjoyed the happiness of others
the way you’d enjoy the warm glow of a fire,
gone now over twenty years as I sail slowly
around corners here. The first few times someone
dies or there’s a sudden change, it’s a few trees
falling, but the woods are still there.
To be older is to notice clear fields.
Well, fine. Let this store be a boiler room powering
me when I mule-carry groceries for my children,
pleased to pick them up from school. Can a room
sense what it becomes to someone else? As though
on an assembly line, a room rolls down landscapes
of purpose, and finally off the map. Leaving
the store, I bought a drink, asked about comics,
but he laughed and said, “No more.”