Specialty Selections

Pushing her shopping cart past
stainless but vacant shelving,
the woman curses the hoarders
who in a time of pandemic
have seized the most usable goods.
But this is “Specialty Selections,”
a category alien to me
since I lack gourmet finesse.

She’s from that other world—
professional, well-traveled,
literate without much reading,
but certain of what she’s read.
Yet in her wool cap and hooded
winter coat, each an exact
shade of black, she looks angry
as the tubular men who stash

assault rifles and ammo where
the Feds will never find them.
“Choose organic—choose peace
of mind,” reads a sign above
the long slats of useless display.
I wouldn’t pay extra to preserve
my carcass beyond its sell-by date,
but she would have loaded her cart.

That long white wire running
from her pocket to her ear—
is she listening to Paul Simon
or Beyoncé or Bessie Smith?
She’s old enough to remember
Frank Sinatra in his prime,
but looks as if she’d disapprove
of his Jersey mob connections.

Unwilling to cocoon myself,
I don’t travel with digital tunes.
but prefer to hum inside my head,
devising little song-bubbles.
They burst and smear the surfaces
I’m afraid to touch with my hands
since I lack the chic black latex gloves
she sports with careless aplomb.

William Doreski's work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston. Read other articles by William.