At the Check Stand
by Gail Denham

Furthest from my mind was a new
relationship on that November day
when you helped bag my groceries.
Your eyes glowed when I described
the cornbread stuffing my husband
used to request with Thanksgiving dinner.

Somehow I knew homemade anything
was missing from your holiday menu,
and had been for years. You’d gladly come
to dinner, your eyes said, while you fumbled
with feeble excuses why you’d never intrude.

Andrew liked you right away, I knew, as my
youngest draped his six-foot-frame over your
chair and told you his dreams. By Christmas,
even the youngest grandchild preferred your lap
when we crowded ‘round the mountain of gifts.

We’d left the mangled turkeys in the market
for that day and settled for a pig’s upper leg,
smothered in honey and dry mustard.

Furthest from my mind had been a new
relationship, a second chance after my beloved
Mike had died, yet when stores flaunted every
flavor of hearts, you had mine. And as your knife
carved the valentine-shaped meatloaf, your
sparkling eyes lit fires.

Previously published in Wyoming chapbook, 2016, and Pennessence, 2016.

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