self-portrait as a grocery store
by Hikari Miya
there are no policemen guarding my sliding glass doors
posterless because there are no missing children or lost dogs around
my edges I am green. slim. could you call me
ripe? but in my belly I am carbs. my heart frozen
pizza and gourmet ice cream. my bladder filled with tea and coffee,
not the kind from starbucks. minute microwave brown rice is in the same section as Asian
and Hispanic foods. furikake, achuete, fenugreek seeds pepper the culinary imagination
more than what Bobby Flay can in a half hour episode of smack talk and flambe.
non-classical piano music drifts through hidden speakers (not like anyone walks
into me with their eyes skyward). the manager is too embarrassed
to play j-pop or k-pop or even despacito because anything with a voice
is enough to crack through the breaking of the pangea
of frozen peas within the bag. a single mother squints at the ingredients on
macaroni and cheese. she doesn’t bother to read the “cheese” list in parentheses
as she tosses three boxes into her loaded cart. she doesn’t see her only boy
quietly bury a shining bag of hershey’s kisses beneath the chicken breasts.
an old man calls me super, like the hero stickers teachers placed in the corners of A+ exams,
while the college student who just buys a bottle of windex and a box of tissues says I’m
convenient. he passes through the self-checkout and crumples his receipt into the garbage
full of other receipts and water cups. no one tosses around the word “cheap”, because like
“cheese”, there are always notes in the parentheses. free-range. organic. no rbst’s, although there’s really no difference between animals with and those without. a yoga teacher laughs
at the words “all natural” on a pack of cookies. you could package my ass and it’d be all
natural, too. she circles back around to get them before heading to the checkout.
just after closing time, the piano music stops so the janitors can walk their mops like dogs
down the aisles humming songs they wish their mothers had taught them. maybe
one day, their hearts will be as open as the sliding doors when someone hungry walks in.
some day they will nourish. some day, they will sing about love. and it will be all natural.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hikari L. Miya is in her last semester of the MFA program at University of San Francisco; she graduated in 2019 from Cornell University. Her work has been nominated as a semifinalist for the Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Prize and has been published or forthcoming in Chestnut Review, Eunoia Review, MacGuffin, litbreak, and others.
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