SHOPPING FOR COMPASSION
My shopping cart is littered with ads
Some torn and wasted,
Left behind by harried customers
Much like me.
I pull my shopping list from the pocket of my jacket,
It is as usual: eggs, milk and bread and yogurt
Inevitably to be accompanied by fifty items
I did not plan to buy, but will.
As I look around at the microcosm of humanity
Which is nestled here in this retail world
I wonder at the variety of food, tastes and people
I see and feel less lonely.
Some are easy to read,
Their faces filled with joy while others
Are clearly having trouble pushing their shopping cart;
Much like me.
I have joy and am smiling
But I also feel each movement of my body.
Age and ability to shop are not always relative
As some of the young
Have a passel of vigorous children
Harassing their young mothers, others not so young.
As a grandma, I find it all fascinating, yet also overwhelming,
Wondering where my vigor has gone.
Did I really survive those years
With small children and loaded shopping carts?
Yet it seems only yesterday.
As my mind is brought back to the present
An exhausted young mother pushes a super cart,
Loaded with scuffling children,
Canned goods and sweetened cereal,
Frustration and maternal pride
Compete for her emotions
On her chubby, flushed pink face.
Two elderly gentlemen
Swap health stories,
Each taking his blood pressure
At a machine outside the pharmacy
While a bored pharmacist
Too tired to be rude, smiles stiffly
And prays for the end of her shift,
Shifting from one sore foot to the other.
In the outdoor nursery
A green refuge from the retail boredom within
New life quietly grows.
Unable to resist
I pick up a bright red geranium
For my kitchen window ledge.
In the toy department
A lone child,
Separated from his mother
Works at destroying a toy
He’s afraid he will never own.
Meanwhile, a studious gentleman
Gazes over the rim of his glasses
Searching through the new paperbacks,
Seeking a life
Between the covers of a book.
A mid-age couple,
Recently struck by illness
Shop the health food aisle
With its promise to live forever.
If only they knew
Which vitamin or herb to take
As they seek the magic bullet.
A seasoned housewife
Picks among the produce
Seeking only the best,
Measuring the importance of life
For her family’s health, one cabbage at a time.
A young bride touches the linens,
Terry towels soft with first lint,
Sheets with their promise of sensuality
The wonder of her future in her eyes.
As her nesting instincts
Long dormant now come alive,
She wanders into the infants wear
Guided by her dreams
As her heart ascends to the next step of life.
I gaze in sweet identification
As I listen to each voice,
Each of us singing our own song,
Alone and yet together
We sing our melodies of daily bread,
Healthy or ill, in pain or not,
We share this ordinary experience of life.