Illustration by Madison Boiby
Illustration by Madison Boiby

At a Supermarket Christmas Aisle

By John Tovar

Underneath Silent Night icicle lights,
I see this napkin-skin girl,
gowned in a black and grey
coffin-shaped blouse,
start to stuff Santa hats
down the hatch of her leather pants.

Her leather squeaks like my mousy shoes
storm-soaked by my grandma’s-dead blues.
The girl’s hair curls like champagne bubbles,
so she must be a friendly talk!
But, wait, her eyes are Jack Frost button rocks
and her charcoal pastel lipstick
accents all her purple acrylic nails.

I want to ask her “how do I look?” with Rudolph antlers on,
but her leather keeps eating more
snowflake trinkets and ornament orbs.
In every bit she steals,
her napkin-skin pales and tears

the same way my grandma’s moved
every time she entered that Oncology room.
The doctor’s chemo killed her twice:
once by poison and once by family fights.

I see the girl coughing like a cat.
I run to help her out as this cop cuffs her wrist.
Perhaps she already knows loneliness.