At the All-Night Supermarket
First week of November, a Christmas tree
has already been assembled to greet customers.
Red and green cookies are available for purchase at the bakery,
and near the produce section is a plush display
of tie-dyed reindeer, names like Chloe and Bernice.
Couple aisles over, a musical kiosk stands
where normally I could listen to rain
fall on a patio, or a classical string quartet
but that, too, has changed to accommodate
the holiday season, so now everything sounds like bells.
The smells haven’t transitioned yet near the candles
and home-cleaning supplies, so everything there
still smells like fresh laundry. Regardless of the time of year,
I never remember where they keep the hummus
and I still haven’t found the capers, even though
I could ask, but I’m stubborn when it comes to discovery
and like stumbling upon it myself, at least putting my problem-solving skills
to work, deducing it should be near the vinegar
even though it’s not, and I don’t care enough to keep searching
and not contemplate this wall of movies to notice
if I am drawn to one, like Hoosiers if I’m homesick
for basketball underdogs, or Air Bud if I’m looking for actual dogs
in a world where rules and legality don’t mean much.
Which reminds me that a couple blocks away
college students are camping outside to protest Wall Street.
It wouldn’t surprise me if they strolled through the glass doors
to buy a heater to keep their tent warm. They could sleep
through the night with a shot of Nyquil, which can be found
in the pharmacy section near the shampoo
and facial scrubs, but since I’m not sleeping outside
I scan every aisle looking for freezers of ice cream.
I grab a pint of Ben & Jerry’s called “Dublin Mudslide”
because I’m a sucker for anything coffee-flavored
and the shamrock over the ‘i’ calls me like a motherland will do
at one in the morning on a Thursday in the frozen section
which means the employees making ice cream in the Vermont hills
knew what they were doing when they incorporated charm into the design.
I congratulate them aloud for knowing how my mind works
before walking to the checkout counter, where I notice
the clerk is the same clerk I had last time I roamed these aisles
late at night searching for something for my hunger
or at least euphoria, however small. I say thank you when he hands me
the bagged ice cream, and I walk toward the exit
where the twenty-foot high Christmas tree
stands surrounded by empty gift boxes wrapped in red ribbon,
the silver ornaments dangling on plastic branches,
the star at the top sparkling
like a tin can underneath the fluorescence.