In Walgreen’s, she waits in a blue molded chair
for her prescription. The clerk said thirty minutes
or less, but it’s more. Coming in,
it was raining, she’d had to hurry across the open
parking lot, pushing the stroller through
gathering puddles, but she can tell by the shoppers,
their coats unbuttoned and the leisurely way they stroll
through the store, that the sky has cleared.
The baby is finally asleep: he lies in her lap, one hand
lifted to his forehead dramatically, as if caught
mid faint, and his small mouth moves in a dream.
Good, because she had to walk him up and down
the aisles, her hands circling his tiny ribcage,
and maneuver him back and forth, back
and forth, so he wouldn’t tumble over,
her little drunken sailor, her miniature buccaneer,
his chubby forefinger pointing out the cold remedies
and aspirin bottles, packets of cotton balls and Q tips.
This? This? This? he asked,
looking up and grinning as each bright package
came into view. She turns in her chair now,
strains to see the sky and, yes, there’s a glimpse of it:
one big cloud, pinkish and high up, comical almost,
with waves of wind dispersing its bottom in tufts.
Sleeping, the baby’s heavier- a weight that pulls
her down, an anchor that fastens her to the floor-
but without him she worries she might
float off, just disappear
and she remembers that game in junior high:
stretched out as if dead
on the waxed wooden floor of the gymnasium,
surrounded by serious faced girls, pairs of hands
slipped under her legs, her shoulders,
the small of her back; most of those girls in college now,
she’s sure, most of them on their way to somewhere good;
Think of something sad, they’d said, Think of nothing at all.
Then One, Two, Three they’d lifted
and how her body floated up
and her arms flew apart without her telling them to,
opened wide as if trying to embrace everything:
the high ceiling, the white fluorescent lights,
the sky above the town, the barely visible stars, her future.
Published in Duke City Fix