Dear America:

 
The checker at Safeway sings his greeting
in an operatic voice. I avoid his line.
I’d like to just say fine, thank you,

without having to hear his score about
the weather. There’s such a thing as too much
cheer. An army of robots is advancing

in the workplace; a woman on the sidewalk
cries quietly. Today a man plowed his car
into a crowd in Charlottesville.

All I want is to buy this chicken, this lemon,
and vodka from the high school girl who lets them
slide past without comment, tearing

the corner of my receipt as innocently as an
afterthought. There are so many reasons

to be sorry. My grandmother is no longer
alive, that’s one. Seven years ago
I lied when my grandfather asked where

she was—he wouldn’t remember anyway.
He wanted to go home, but we left him

with the nurses, staring at the brightly
singing birds behind glass. Is this home?

No one knows. A woman dead in Charlottesville,
and every day here we are, searching
bins of softened peaches, aisles of jars.

Someone on the sidewalk breaks apart
into her hands, an army advances.
The guilty and the lost among us inflating

our chests, lying and singing, covering up.

    

  

  

Erin MaloneErin Malone is the author of Hover (Tebot Bach Press, 2015) and a chapbook, What Sound Does It Make (Concrete Wolf Press, 2008). She lives in Seattle and is editor of Poetry Northwest.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Header photo by dh_creative, courtesy Pixabay.

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