~ ONE ART’s Top 10 Most-Read Poets of July 2023 ~
If Found, Return to Store
-After Dean Young’s “New Restrictions”
It doesn’t matter that you earned
Employee of the Month twice in one year,
or that you’re the only Store Associate who knows
how to fix a wonky scanner on the fly.
It hardly matters about that time you were filling in
at the Service Counter and talked that guy into giving you
his fake gun, the one he pulled when the lottery machine was down
for almost 15 minutes, it doesn’t matter at all that you kept him busy
so the Manager had time to call the cops (and no one
even saw the guy smile at you while they led him out in cuffs).
It also doesn’t matter that you popped that unwashed grape
out of the little girl’s throat with a quick Heimlich in Produce
while her mother — big sister? — was screaming or maybe
crying, hard to tell over the speakers’ loud soft rock,
or the day you finally caught the serial Huggies thief
before she left the parking lot in her pearl-white Tesla.
It doesn’t matter, and not because they don’t know
about that ten-dollar bill you could hardly spare
from your pocket but added anyway to Register 6
when the bag lady who talks a lot and mostly to herself
didn’t have money for the Scooter Pies and Yoo-Hoo
in her gray hands, it doesn’t matter a bit, and you knew it,
you’re still not allowed to wheel that shopping cart home
to give your Yorkies, waiting for the end of your shift, a ride.
Margie Duncan lives in Kendall Park, New Jersey, with her husband, Brian, and two tuxedo cats. She recently retired from Princeton University and returned to writing poetry and looking out the window. She spends the rest of her time hiking in the woods and reading for pleasure. Her first published poem appeared recently in Thimble Literary Magazine.