There is a pile of avocados. They are
not hand grenades. Those watermelons
are striped, not wired. The inflatable
football field, atop the frozen food isle,
is ineffective cover. The grocer stocking
the bananas looks as annoyed
as I am, there is barely a speck of yellow

in a field of phallic green. The handle for
the cart is moist. I hope I’ve
been sweating. My leggings
are thin and cool today. They feel
like my insides when I’m hugged
by someone I didn’t know
loved me. My hair is
tangled on the left. I’m sure
I look vain, running both
hands through it. The pineapple
is heavier than I expected. The frond
plucks right out. The automatic
doors are not helicopter
blades, they only opened

three times. The manager is explaining
why the new cashier needs to arrive
early not just on time. The lights
buzz low, or maybe
the fixtures are just higher
in here. The prepackaged
cookies open with that plastic
pop. I’m glad the medical mask

keeps my breath from everyone
around me. I finished all
the coffee this morning. It’s half
the reason we are here. The other
is those cakes, that warm baked flour,
wafting into everyone.
Biting my cheek, the metallic
tint allows me to begin again.

— Chris Allen (they/them) is a nonbinary parent and Army veteran, whose writing centers on family, trauma, and shedding masks. Their works are published or forthcoming with Consequence, Defunkt Magazine, Glass Mountain, Press Pause, Wingless Dreamer, and others. They won the 2019 Lillie Robertson Prize for poetry. They are currently an MFA candidate at Oklahoma State University.

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