“Grocery Boy,” by Kim Malinowski

Aug 20th, 2022 | By | Category: Poetry

The geek I call “grocery boy” at Kroger is named Daniel.
No one nicknamed him or if they did it was Mars or Pluto
or Too-Smart-For-His-Own-Good.
I know an older Too-Smart-For-His-Own-Good
so, I understand when grocery boy begs to help me
lug water to my car or cat litter or paper towels
or stops me, still in neon yellow vest
and stammers about anime and asks if I like Harry Potter before
I realize that “Hogwarts” plasters my chest in my new pushup bra.
But grocery boy only cares about trivia and has not
mastered himself to quiet or patient
or appropriate for carting around someone’s groceries.
He is appropriate for me.
I know his kind, am his kind,
patiently tell him about my latest archeology dig.
Expect the same question— “Did you find anything?”
But no, cornered guiltily in the baked good isle,
he asks what war? What century? What field?
I explain to anyone interested because
I am a Too-Smart-For-Her-Own-Good geek.
That we were looking at neolithic points,
finding secondary and tertiary and broken.
His eyes, repulsed, “you aren’t grave robbing, are you?
Because grave goods belong to the dead.”


Kim Malinowski’s collection Home was published by Kelsay Books, her verse novel Clutching Narcissus was published by Twelve House Books, and her verse novel Phantom Reflection was published by Silver Bow Publishing. She has two forthcoming full-length books. Shhh. Don’t tell. She stole her tagline from a Highlander episode—not “there can be only one”—but she writes because the alternative is unthinkable.

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