So you stand there

Hands cradling the dripping



Chunk of meat as the big-haired housewife looks down her nose

At your high-water black jeans, faded rose polo, and orange socks

And think:

"Fuck no, I'm not double wrapping it for you."

And you don't wipe down the belt after

Sending her raw dinner on

To the sacker. Even though you know

The boss gets red faced

About that sort of breach in cashier courtesy

And you'll probably get lectured about store cleanliness

And customer satisfaction when you go on break. And it feels really good

To smile big and chirp

About the weather and coupons

While you watch her carrot sticks and Snickers bar

Moving on down the belt

In a smear of blood.

And even though your hands are now rusty red and sticky

And the blood is drying,

sealing your fingers together,

You only glance at the bottle of hand sanitizer that you hid

Behind the credit card machine.

You don't pick it up

Or wash off your hands, even though you can feel the tingle

Of E-coli germs digging their way into your skin

And you know you won't be able to eat dinner again tonight and that your job

Is turning you into a hypochondriac

At only sixteen

And you long for the days when you only worried about the ink stains

From your Calculus text book

And never felt like an uneducated dropout because you sell

Your neighbors their groceries

And you really want the meat lady to leave and to maybe

Die from E-coli in her not-double-wrapped meat.

And you watch the blood dry into your fingerprints

And you think:

"I am not the butcher."