Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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Most days I stick to the periphery —
produce and eggs and chicken and cheese —
but tonight I am buying peanut butter,
which here is inexplicably placed
with the popcorn and chips.
I let myself look at those old friends
salt and vinegar, cheddar and sour cream,
but it’s the blue tortilla that stops me.
My arm aches from the weight
of my basket. I set it down at my feet.
Music plays from the ceiling, carts roll
down other aisles, and I stand still,
trying to remember the summer
I met my father and turned thirteen.
My brother and I flew to San Francisco.
Our father took us to buy sunglasses,
drove us out to see the redwood trees.
We ate lunch on a gray beach.
Turkey sandwiches. Blue tortilla chips.
He had a box filled with small bags,
the kind they stock in vending machines.
My brother wouldn’t eat them. I thought
he was just being picky, but later,
when we were both adults, he told me
they’d all expired months before.
Standing in the grocery store,
I suddenly feel such tenderness
toward my father, that stupid man.
I pull out my phone, google his name,
and in a moment I hold his picture.
I can’t believe how old he is,
hair all gray, a new heaviness
in his face. I put the phone away,
take a bag of tortilla chips home.
It will sit in my cabinet untouched.
I will look at it whenever I open the door.