Tuna Meow Meow 10¢ Off
Checkout behind befuddled woman
who places one can Turkey & Giblets Cat Food
on counter, watches the scan,
selects a Price Chopper coupon
thumbing through a stack in her fist.
Cashier shakes her head: “Coupon’s for
the small size, honey, you’ve got the large,”
tosses the can in a reject bag white plastic
while Ms. Befuddle lifts a can Chicken Chunks.
Some match the coupon some don’t. A full cart.
Lift one can. Scan. Sift through coupons
one by one by
Trapped between carts I want to wave a twenty
tell cashier Just pretend the coupons work
but don’t want to shame Ms. B
slow wobbly with a gray mustache
supermarket bustling brain-busting music
poor woman in a poor woman’s coat
texture of old winter slush.
Spider-tattoo Mom behind me with toddler
points at her six-pack of Blue Point Toasted Lager,
jokes we should open some beers while we wait.
At last my turn ask cashier quick
gimme white plastic bag of rejects I’ll buy
cashier scans zip zip zip
but outside I can’t find Ms. B
trundled away under low gray sky…
“I’ll take ’em.”
It’s Spider-Mom from behind me in line.
“We’ll feed stray cats. For him,” she nods at
toddler, “a teachable moment.”
She takes the white plastic bag, smiles.
“Enjoy your day.”
Joe Cottonwood is happy to be called an old hippie. His new book of poetry is Random Saints — poems of kindness for an unkind age. He’s a semi-retired home repair contractor and a lifelong writer sheltering with his high school sweetheart among redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.