After Second Shift
She’s stopped to shop for groceries.
Her snow boots sloshing
up and down the aisles, the store
deserted: couple stock boys
droning through cases of canned goods,
one sleepy checker at the till.
In the parking lot, an elderly man
stands mumbling outside his sedan,
all four doors wide to gusting sleet
and ice. She asks him, Are you okay?
He’s wearing pajama pants, torn slippers,
rumpled sport coat, knit wool hat.
Says he’s waiting for his wife.
I just talked to her on the payphone
over there. He’s pointing at
the Coke machine. What payphone?
she says. That one, he says.
It’s cold, she says, and escorts him inside.
Don’t come with lights
and sirens, she tells the 9-1-1
dispatcher. You’ll scare him.
They stand together. The checker
brings him a cup of coffee.
They talk about the snow.
So much snow.
They watch for the cop.
This night, black as any night,
or a bit less so.
by Lowell Jaeger from Or Maybe I Drift Off Alone. © Shabda Press, 2016.