Your bare feet

leave misty prints on the floor;

I’ll follow them through isles of tinned fruit,

across tiles of false marble that

capture the movement of water.

While you squint to read labels

and refresh in the cool shade of store,

I’ll catch my reflection looking up

from beneath me

and see I’m wearing his clothes, still

filthy and unshaven.

I lose you for a second,

amongst the frozen goods

and find a girl I’d previously forgotten.

Does she know these aren’t mine, and

has she smelt, upon my person,

the stench of damp and grease,

smoke and sweat?

When did you become a woman?

I would ask.

Who are you stacking shelves for?

And before asking her to try

the fruit, you appear,

sifting through the magazines,

lifting your shades to read the

headlines. Your eyes

jump from statistic to distraction

and back to me.

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There seems little tragedy in the

shape of those numbers. I know

you’d rather rest awhile

amongst the Pink Ladies, with the

back-page sudoku.

I could too, and watch those

glossy pages dance in the gentle

touches of air-conditioning.

And catch the light shining,

light fragmenting, through endless

stacks of bottled water.

How tempting it is

to place my hands upon a

monument so pure.

Cover it with my grime, smear it

with my sweaty palms.

Animal filth.

Now a shopper breaks my gaze;

can’t they see that I’m desperate

for refreshment?

I listen for your footsteps.

Mine wander towards the exit,

yours away to the

rhythm of the cashier’s call.

I have taken nothing

but relief from the heat.

Don’t forget the receipt.

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