“Human language is not the same as human speech. We use gestures and signs to communicate alongside, or instead of, speaking.”
Composed proper footing
To those who were in line before me.
A supermarket check-out aisle
Designated to herd consumers
Like a safe area for protesters to congregate
During a political rally, but instead of declarative signs
A mother with grainy reddened knuckles
Clutched her child’s shirt collar.
Asserted that he,
“Quit fooling around or there’d be no candy in the car.”
He subdued his flailing but kept
Lifting and lowering-steps in place
To combat a rambunctious metabolism
And oblige mother’s orders.
As their turn culminated in purchase
And dead chore they exited the building
Mother chasing child
Sprinting through automatic doors.
I approached the cashier.
A blossoming teenager
With sparse facial hair
Trimmed to resemble a goatee.
He had pockmarks near his eye sockets
That flinched as we greeted each other-
Social norm tonnage verified hellos.
He scanned spaghetti packages
A total for the purchase
Flashed on a tiny monitor.
He even announced the total
To assure clarity,
“That’ll be 2.27.”
I foraged in my coat pocket for change-
Perspiration seeped off my fingertips
And saturated coinage. The metallic scent
Of moistened dead presidents
Carried from my palm and anchored in air.
I counted it out
Reached the end of simple addition,
Realized I didn’t have enough. Flushed complexion
Vandalized my demeanor,
“You’ll have to take away one of the packages.”
I instructed. A quizzical expression
Molded the cashier’s eyebrow into an arch-
His pockmark opened like a mouth agape.
He pressed a few buttons-
I fidgeted and picked at my cuticles
Pulled keratin to bordering flesh.
He announced the new total,
I paid it and slinked through
The automatic doors.
That night I forgot about retailed spaghetti
And drank free whiskey
With a friend.