Family Dollar

The New Choice Pregnancy Testing Kits
are hung along the ramp-up to the register.
The woman ahead of me would pass hers
with flying colors. She’s huge and sighing,
the kids in her cart keep eying my candy.
I recognize the cashier—she’s the girl
who used to work at the Video Cave that closed.
We saw her one time after that—at the go-kart place—
she told us she’d moved away, she had won
some kind of scholarship, and was going to
start college in Syracuse. We watched
her boyfriend race her around the track,
he made her howl with such abandon
when he rammed her.

The house just east of the go-kart place
caved in a month ago. It had been peeling
and boarded up for years. When I’d drive by,
I used to say, I bet there’s something
good in there. Then one night last July,
I watched three guys come out, they were
carrying the stairs. But who do you call
if you see a thing like that, where do you start—
do you just say, Send a cruiser right away,
I just saw someone taking a flight of stairs?
I wonder if she’ll remember me—I remember
she was smart. The lines here take a lifetime,
but it’s easy to fill your cart. When everything
is next to nothing.

– Joan Murray

from Swimming for the Ark