In a Span of Minutes

by Micki Blenkush


The customer a few folks ahead
does not unload her items
onto the conveyer while waiting
as most of us do, but rather
holds her basket close to her chest
until she’s eye to eye with the clerk
then hands the first thing over,
watches the clerk scan it, bag it,
before giving up the next.

Shampoo, deodorant, one tan placemat,
each inanimate object passively
starring in a tedious pantomime.
The clerk is unflappable, professional,
and the guy next in line is on his phone
talking about how soon he’ll be home
oblivious to the unnecessary delay.

When the customer is told the total,
she pays in cash. One bill at a time
dug from separate purse compartments,
each with its own zipper, button, or buckle.
I murmur, Oh my God before I notice
the guy ahead has hung up his phone,
is smiling in rapt attention
as though watching a puppy play.

In the background, a woman in a foot brace
hobbles after a previous customer asking,
Ma’am, did you leave behind your bag?
while at the service desk
a young man gathers and loosens
the resplendent waterfall of his hair.

Micki Blenkush is the author of Now We Will Speak in Flowers, published by Blue Light Press. She was selected as a 2017-2018 fellow in poetry for the Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series program and is a 2015 and 2019 recipient of grants awarded through the Central MN Arts Board, funded by the McKnight Foundation. Her writing has appeared in numerous journals including: Calyx, Cagibi, Grist, and Crab Creek Review. More at: