Emily Brontë’s Shopping Trolley, drawing by Conrad Atkinson, 2009, coloured pencil, watercolour, printing, and acrylic paint on paper
Let’s admit it’s good to get out
in streets no longer emptied
by plague. That we’re over winter,
the camo leggings of quarantine
fashion. I’ll take Emily at her word: of ways
to be ordinary, this might be
fun—pushing trolleys with uncertain
finesse past fitness gurus gathering
cacao nibs & community-traded
tea. I could use a sister to interrogate
my knowledge of toxins & need
for another pair of super-soft jeans. Watch me
lean in when the gossip gets good—her brother’s
negligence in keeping accounts, the neighbors’
Twitter feuds, the family still fuming
over her brief flirtation with Occupy.
No one would call her queasy. Still,
she’ll query the butcher about
the origins of the Irish salmon,
the dry-rubbed baby back ribs.
She’s writing songs now—do I think
the vocals could use more reverb? Smoky cocktails
& sliding cheeseboards are delightful
distractions, if not promising cures.
She’d say a trolley (from dialect, low cart
with flanged wheels) is a proper shiny
conveyance good for gathering books
& greens, though I notice linnets & butterflies
are already flying free of its bars.
The aesthetics of business are ugly but
Emily makes short work of the weekly shop.
Farewell, green ivy, feathered fern,
fall leaf. At the farmer’s market, we’ll admire
the varietals—Sungold, Apero, Gardener’s
Delight—& how they signal a lateral move
through harvest, forage, & feast. She’ll toast
our pact to ditch doomsday novels, swap
stress-relief jewelry for time in the dirt, hands
upturning earth’s microbiome for health.
Let’s admit we all could use a companion
in times of vanishing seasons.