Grocery Store

"Clean up in aisle 6"

Someone up in an office yells,

hidden from view,

like the Wizard of Oz.

Trudge from the register to aisle 6

to inspect the damage.

A clumsy customer has dropped

two of the biggest jars of spaghetti sauce in the store.

It looks like a crime scene,

or as if a small volcano of marinara sauce had formed.

I check my watch, five minutes left to my shift.

What perfect timing.

I go to the back, to the Green Monster-

boxes go into its mouth, the door closes,

it growls and hisses and squeals,

like an animal protecting territory,

and out comes a cardboard cube.

My hand goes into the gaping maw, ignoring the glaring safety signs around me

to steal food from the monster.

No time for caution when I was only five minutes

from freedom.

Grabbing a pack of paper towels on my back out,

I return to the scene of the crime and get to work.

Sloughing great dollops of sauce onto a torn off box flap

and into a paper bag.

Using something they'll never show in the training video,

I get a one hour job done in twenty minutes.

As I'm picking up the shrapnel, my finger catches on fire.

I look down and see blood streams from a fresh cut,

something in the sauce makes it burn like

acid, lava, the sun.

I go to the bathroom to wash the cut out,

checking to make sure I wouldn't be taking a glass memento with me.

Finally, I am done. I return to aisle 6, grab the evidence bag,

and throw it into the garbage bag out back.

I walk back to the front of the store

and slide my card through the ancient time clock.

The things I do for minimum wage.