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Dollar Store

Consider hunger that thuds. More than a fig beetle fidgeting in a jelly jar. Its metallic green varnish a water splash over motor oil. The parking lot of the dollar store on the corner of Holt & San Antonio where the security guard’s head bobs, back to back shifts burrowed in brow ridge. How they are confused by cash register metal. Clunking. Behind snoozed eyelids, a daydream that is not the many palms, concave as if for more than the no’s and not right now’s they will receive during business hours. Not the four children scouring shelves & pilfering chocolate trinkets. Or tin-foil scraps at a woman’s feet. Puffed from having walked miles to her job at the industrial park on Old Pomona Boulevard, her shoulders slumped & shaded. Hills toothing in dusklight. The shadows of feet relume beneath the stars of lamposts. Her husband with nightcorked in his veins. Coasts the swap meet lot weaving the columns of orange light. Vows tonever. Always. In that car her days of laughter. Sometimes she prays, pinching rosary beads as if made of teeth wrenched from his mouth. Rummages through bruised gala apples, wrinkled cherries. Pregnant eggplant. The fruit of Nightshade. Its rich purple matches the flaked lacqueron her fingernails. How those hands seize the stroller she pushes through aisles. Toward the register. Her pennies and blackened dimes are two bucks short. She keeps only the potatoes. Later they will squeal in lard & diced hot dog brine. Blister the kitchen. She will split brown banana skin, spread peanut butter on a Bimbo slice. Mold poked out. Consider the brass alloy & manganese melded into the shape of Sacagawea. Papoose embossed. It sheens in a case metal-flecked. So many brown folds on the hand. Its dirt tipped nails slinking wire. Guitar a few strings absent. Always a decent tune away from a meal, lungful of smoke.

Adrian T. Quintanar is from Pomona, California and received an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and BA from Hampshire College. His work has previously appeared in RED INK Journal. He is also the managing editor of Chapter House Journal.

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