with chunks of chicken
sticker books and melting chocolate
crinkly bags of beef jerky
mini pencils strewn like petals
crumbs in every crack
we make our way along the border
its golden sphere beckons us to stop.
we can’t go inside but see the perfect playground,
the grass soft as our new carpet,
the two-story fountain filled with children
who hear it erupt and rush
like carnivorous hawks toward fresh prey,
and i forget
(for all of ten minutes)
that i am not one of them,
but the parent
now soaked from head to toe,
dress sticking to my legs
as my three little girls
weave me in and out of spurts
in our quilt of childhood joy,
sewing up the perfect end
to a dogged day’s drive.
ninety degrees, heading into the sun,
hour three of a dogged day’s drive.
my sweat gives in to my need for
some cool caffeine, even if it means
stopping at the food devil’s door.
i stand in line behind their typical customer:
400 pounds, greasy white hair,
pack of Marlboros tucked into its home
in his back pocket, he orders his
super-sized meal and waddles around
while the too-thin cashier rings it up.
i catch a glimpse (all it takes)
of his 4X gray T-shirt that
bubbles over his belly
like an ashy house dress.
“Fit for Life: Jesus Christ’s Gym.”
when i discover the latte machine is broken,
the irony leads me across the street where
i put $2.46 down on the gas station counter
for a canned Starbucks, the Indian brothers
taking my money, their heavy accents reminding me
of home, home, home.