By Erin Redfern
Featured art by Jordan M. Lomibao
The drugstore on Hamilton and Bascom used to be a Long’s, then a Rite Aid.
Now it’s a CVS. That’s where sadness stays, nestled in packs of Ticonderogas,
hiding behind Jim Beam bottles at closing. While registers spin LED dreams,
sadness settles between Pampers and Depends. Not at home,
but still it’s got everything it needs––sandals, snacks, sewing kits.
Curled into itself, sadness inches forward on the same tear-track it emits,
snags on frayed carpet in the photo album aisle, which is always empty.
Sadness adheres to envelope flaps, tastes of foil torn open with teeth. It naps
amid our unanticipated needs: Ace bandages, B vitamins, vaginal cream.
It permeates the circulated air––the air I breathe in every other CVS.
The one back East where I bought lip gloss that smelled like apricots.
The one in Chicago you found when I got sick.
Even the future one, where you’re not on the mend
and need strange new prescriptions from the pharmacy bins. Dad.
Your body has begun its reluctant fade: you’re on your third left knee,
second right lens, first dental bridge. In the San Jose CVS
I’m not buying anything yet; I’m in the greeting card aisle, reading condolences,
passed by smocked employees with their carts for restocking.
They’ll stop what they’re doing to help someone find cat food or aspirin,
nylons or sunblock or a drying rack. They’re bone-tired and kind. They don’t let on
how these dumb rhymes make me cry, how I’m standing here wiping my nose with my sleeve. Opening, reading, putting back. Practicing.
Erin Redfern’s work has recently appeared in Fire & Rain: Ecopoetry of California (Scarlet Tanager), Split Rock Review, and the North American Review, where it was runner-up for the James Hearst Prize. Her chapbook is Spellbreaking and Other Life Skills (Blue Lyra Press). She teaches writing in San Jose, California. erinredfern.net