by Ulrica Hume
You enter through swiftly opening doors: headache-blue neon above, pool of glistening chemicals below. You follow antiseptic tracks to the tune of “Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head”, traversing a no man's land of frozen foods. See the bleached-white potatoes and irregularly shaped carrots? Colored glass marbles of peas and corn threaten to roll underfoot.
At last, you find the wintry box, reach in, grab a carton of milk, all that you wanted.
And hurry on. Swaying steel scales, tufts of fake greenery. A bald man is arranging a pyramid of waxy apples, probably dreaming of a woman named Beulah.
You juggle a baguette of bread, chocolate bar, three minty soaps (on sale), and a can of mushroom soup. The air must be thick with subliminal messages.
The checkout girl has golden hoops in her ears. “Paper or plastic?” she drowsily asks.
The tribes gather behind you. “Paper,” you say.
Outside, in the parking lot, an old tree waits. Its leaves will fall for the beauty of forgotten things.
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I always find the grocery store to be a surreal place. Time stops, or does it? I think of Eckhart Tolle and the power of now, no matter where you are.