On Grief / Walking Through Costco I Feel Like a Woman
When you died, the grooves
in your back turned to rivers
on which I set sail everything I stole from you:
white dress, fresh figs, jars and jars of thick
dark honey–the scent of which reminds me
of your skin as it caught the light in the olive grove,
the light which was rightfully ours–
your tendency to pick at your nails, the gun
from your desk (yes, I know you kept it
in the bottom drawer, unloaded).
Didn’t I tell you I could read palms?
Didn’t I tell you if I could whisper
into the scar on your eyebrow, I’d say
Underneath all that rage is an old wound.
Walking Through Costco I Feel Like a Woman
The kind who glides around tables of baked goods,
her black platform boots swinging over the cement floor
like parallel pendulums, a halo of fluorescent light
The kind of woman who is lost without knowing it,
who takes walks in cemeteries,
brushing dirt and snow from headstones,
reading the names and years out loud,
as her father taught her, one by one.
This is the kind of woman who quits her job,
runs away to a small coastal town,
keeps a pocket knife tucked in her sock,
falls asleep drunk on the pier.
What is she doing here
among the abundance, the canned peaches
and pickled beets? This is woman who, like anyone,
must sometimes take inventory.
Who, passing a full-size mirror, calculates
the bewildering mass of her hips.
She wears her jacket three sizes too big on purpose—
she likes the way it hangs off her shoulders,
pulling them down into a heavy shrug,
but not the kind of shrug that says I don’t know,
the kind that says I’m cool
I don’t need a cart I just need to walk
through a warehouse in winter
when the temperature outside is below freezing,
and the workers are beginning what they call
a nightly ritual in which they scan the building,
starting in the back and moving to the entrance,
stopping to say to everyone they find,
we’re closing soon.
When they reach me, I am in the frozen fish section,
staring into the open eye of a tilapia.
I look up at them and they look at me
and then down at the fish and back at me and they say
we’re closing soon ma’am,
and it takes all my strength
not to embrace their drooping bodies
and hold their faces in my hands when I say
I know I know I know.
Anna Girgenti is a midwestern poet and illustrator. She currently lives in Chicago and works with incarcerated writers through PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing program. She was a recipient of the University of Iowa’s 2018 Iowa Chapbook Prize. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Cider Press Review, Gordon Square Review, Zone 3 Press, and Mid-American Review.