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A Supermarket in California

2006-09-08 10:23

    What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked

    down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking

    at the full moon.

    In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon

    fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!

    What peaches and what penumbras!  Whole families shopping at

    night!  Aisles full of husbands!  Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!

    ——and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

    I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking

    among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.

    I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops?

    What price bananas?  Are you my Angel?

    I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you,

    and followed in my imagination by the store detective.

    We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy

    tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the

    cashier.

    Where are we going, Walt Whitman?  The doors close in a hour.

    Which way does your beard point tonight?

    (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and

    feel absurd.)

    Will we walk all night through solitary streets?  The trees add shade

    to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.

    Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automo-

    biles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?

    Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America

    did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a

    smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of

    Lethe?

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