single male shopper

he looks clean enough but
seems crumpled
as though he’s been through the wash
but somehow eluded the iron

perhaps he’s lost
or just vague
certainly he appears distracted
as he propels the trolley
up and down
each and every aisle
a man who possesses no list
of what is needed
but hopes to know it
when he sees it
sewing needles

should he
or shouldn’t he

the decision requires
inordinate consideration
and study
halfway along the sundry-goods shelf

perhaps he is peering
not at the price
but into a future he can only glimpse
trying to picture himself
re-attaching a button
that hasn’t yet unravelled
from the sleeve of a shirt
he is yet to wear

imagining a domestic situation
with himself as solo protagonist

and there’s nothing needed
for the laundry

he becomes more decisive in meat
where the veal schnitzel
is particularly attractive
always easy to do in the fry-pan
two packs
one for tonight
one to freeze

vegetables warrant hardly a glance
another sign perhaps
of the limitations of his imagination

grapes though
grapes are good

soft-drink cheese-slices
a packet of gummy bears
milk and yoghurt
pre-pack fettuccini
with a microwave sauce
one quiche

a six-pack of meat pies
snap-freezes him for a moment
in the chill section
as he pauses to visualise again
this time it’s an image
of the space available
inside his own freezer at home
before he moves on

to toilet paper toothpaste
paracetamol shampoo

no condoms (sigh)

no socks
no jockettes
no razors
no soap

ah apple juice on special
on a corner where it catches his eye

he steers to the checkout
the only counter
where cigarettes are sold
for a carton of gaspers
to conclude

pauses at the exit of the shop
as if trying to recall an item
that should have been
on the non-existent list

shrugs his shoulders
and wanders towards the lotto outlet

he could get lucky

© Frank Prem, 2003


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