Michael Diebert - Seniors

They climb out single file from the rest home van,
Ailing, wan, apologizing with their eyes.
They idle past the angel food cake, lists in hand.
They check the backs of soup cans, inspect the English muffins,
Stack apples and oranges on opposite sides of the cart.

In the frozen section, they form a smiling, rosy-nosed council.
The threads of conversation are few and loosely bound.
Grandkids, the price of gas, a spate of rain.
In this supermarket, in this sliver of time,
No one says It must be hard or bless their hearts—

Perhaps a perfect simulation of the hereafter,
A proving ground for our souls’ motors.
Sometimes they tremble, sometimes they begrudge
The past a chilly glance over their shoulders,

And sometimes they see their long-dead loved ones
On a head of lettuce, a box of corn flakes,
A quart of lime sherbet, the cover of People,
And this witness is akin to staring at the sky
To be reminded of the sky, and of sight.

Michael Diebert hails from Kingsport, Tennessee, the Model City. His poems have previously appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, JAMA, and Southern Indiana Review, and will soon appear in Ouroboros Review and Rattle. He presently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches writing and literature at Georgia Perimeter College and is an associate poetry editor for Futurecycle (www.futurecycle.org).

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