“Give him milk to make him sick”
A gravelly-throated grandmother spoke,
I chose this wrong time
To hear choking from the other end
Of her connection, waiting to pay
For pharmaceuticals and confectionery.
Disabused queue, end of the line,
Kissing in public is frowned upon;
Improbable healthcare professionals
Talking behind me, irresponsibly,
About a young female client
Pleading with herself to kill
If she could just have seven pills.
I heard their saturnine eyes rolling.
We all have our conditions;
Some degrade us,
Some deceive and some distill,
I stood blankly at the automated till
Because all the alerts had run out.
In a patriarchal society
Fecund machines are bestowed
With women’s names
Or pronouns used pejoratively;
Olivia, Marion, Emily.
It reminded me of a former colleague,
Cigarette-blonde hair and eyes
Like falling rain, deceased,
Cancer grabbed her and drowned her
So quickly her doctor
Did not have time for prognoses,
Akin to a storm unforecasted
Or a cast of crabs
Swarming on a tourist beach,
Dragging her into the sea.
Less and less people are wearing
Poppies of the season because
More and more are forgetting –
I met a man who went to war
And nobody wore a flower at all.
Departing the store, someone
Walking four and a half seconds
In my wake is singing words
He heard on the supermarket radio
And I want to find a way
To travel between two worlds,
Suture the irreversible wound,
Turn on a kettle,
Welcome myself home.
On the way, however,
I drove by a broken-down car,
Middle lane, hazard lights,
Annoyance of drivers,
And I observed to my horror
A shell of that disillusioned client
Moments after she did what she had to.
I later learned her name
Was and still is somewhere