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ADRIENNE JANSEN

Local

 

Eggs

She balances the tray of eggs

on her fingertips, just like a waiter.

She put on weight with the baby

and hasn’t lost it. Her thighs bulge

between her long striped socks

and her tiny shorts.

 

He is trudging behind her,

pushing the buggy.

The bags of groceries

are stuffed in underneath.

The baby is mashing

a slice of ham and chicken.

 

She walks four steps ahead of him

without once looking back.

 

That’s the sign.

 

Another six months

of the kid screaming,

the on-and-on argument about

who bought the fucking carpet steamer

and one day she slams a tray of eggs

onto his Xbox, and walks out

flicking her fingers into the air

like she’s calling the waiter.

 

Ice cream

The man with the Zimmer frame

stumbles, and the boy beside him

grabs his elbow.

The Zimmer frame knocks

against the girl with the tray of eggs

teetering on her fingertips

who says, ‘Fuck off’

and grabs at the eggs

with her other hand.

 

The man with the Zimmer frame

is seventy years older

than the boy beside him

who keeps one hand

lightly on his elbow.

With his other hand the boy is texting

sorry busy

 

 

The man with the Zimmer frame

stops for breath. He watches

the couple – the girl with the eggs,

the guy with the buggy –

crossing the road. He winces

as the father bangs the wheels

up over the kerb.

‘Want an ice cream?’ he says

to the boy texting.

 

 

Nothing

The wide man leaning on his gate

sings, and waves at everything.

His trousers stop above

his small white socks.

His arms are giant

windscreen wipers.

 

A jogger in pink track pants

with a tiny dog on a leash

waves back. The girl with the tray

of eggs on her fingertips

flicks her eyes at him

then pretends she didn’t.

 

He doesn’t care. He sings,

loud, cheerful nonsense.

 

Across the road, the man with the Zimmer frame

raises one hand and salutes him.

The boy walking beside him

says, ‘What a weirdo.’

 

 

Lots

Two women sashay past

the man at the gate.

They wave in time with him,

then roll their hips and laugh.

They have their church clothes on,

their big hats, flowery dresses

and large handbags.

 

They’re a good team. Their bags

are bulging with perfume, hand cream,

earrings, razor blades, tins of oysters,

a mobile phone. First time

they’ve scored a phone.

 

They pass the girl balancing

the tray of eggs on her fingertips.

One digs in her bag, and tosses a lipstick.

It lands on the eggs, and the girl

nips it off with her other hand

and rams it down the front

of her tiny shorts.

 

Smokes

The woman behind the counter

leans her pregnant belly against the till.

The jogger in pink track pants

is tying the tiny dog to the sign

outside the dairy.

‘Oi!’ the woman behind the counter shouts.

‘He’ll pee on the doorpost.’

The jogger shrugs. She wants Port Royal 50 grams

yellow papers yellow filters.

She rolls one for herself, then one

for the crazy man across the road.

‘They kill you,’ the woman behind the counter says.

 

Eggs again

The man with the Zimmer frame

bangs the wheels over

the broken lino.

‘Get out!’ shouts the woman behind the counter.

But it’s not at him. It’s at a dog

moseying in between his legs.

Then there’s a boy texting,

and two women in hats.

 

The woman behind the counter glares at them.

She knows they’ll nick a tin of beef in a wink.

 

The man with the Zimmer frame

buys half a carton of eggs.

He waves at the ice cream

and nods at the boy. ‘What flavour?’

Then he says to the woman

behind the counter, ‘Busy?’

She rubs her belly. ‘Bit of a rush.’

She points at his eggs and says

‘Buy a tray. They’re cheaper.’

 

That’s the sign.

 

Another three months

of marked-down stock,

and she empties the till,

bundles the crying baby

into the buggy,

and sellotapes a sign

onto the window

closed sorry

She walks out,

flicking a hand in the air

like she’s calling a taxi.

 

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