After quarantine months alone each day the same,
the grocery a delight of colors, smells.
Avocados and blood oranges, mounds of lettuces,
bright lemons yellow and brown plantains.

And all this bustle. Strangers amble
up and down aisles, or hurry, disgusted
or excited. Arguing, articulating a point
with grand sweep of arms.      Hard to shop
with all the flash and flap
                             finally slide into checkout.

I’d like to touch the weathered cheeks
of the woman─ eyes downcast─
who pulls into line behind me. A mother,
grandmother, perhaps,
                             she lives alone. I can tell
by the half dozen items in her cart.

I’ll bet she knows precisely how much money
Is held in that purse she hugs
                             tightly to her side.
She is thinking if I put back
that fresh orange
there will be enough.

I imagine
                  a life spent stepping aside
for husband, children, neighbors
pushing her wants away.
                            As a rock worn by relentless
                   sea, bit by bit
she recedes.

When I place the plastic divider
onto the conveyer,            a small gesture
to allow her groceries,
she lifts eyes to mine and smiles
                    a surprise
                    the bright of a cut watermelon.

Jean Anne is a 73-year-old psychotherapist living in Maine. She has recently begun publishing poems to online journals such as Spank the Carp and The Hopper. Her first chapbook, Not All Are Weeping, will be published by Main Street Rag in the spring of 2023.