The One Rodent

A woman's voice is squalling across the petites section of this department store. A mother flees, her hand on a child's red wrist. A dyspeptic member of management squeezes his temples until they burn white like the bitter aspirin ground between his teeth.

For my part, I lean against a mirrored column, my neckwear deliberation interrupted. I shift on sore feet. I transfer a set of keys from one pocket to another.

I was once the recipient of a department store tirade. I think of the vague-faced woman who delivered it, disinterested in her current circumstances. I am lead to thoughts of other women. Some names I remember. Some I don't. It is the same with faces, occupations, living quarters, musical taste, and kitchen acumen.

One woman is a leaf of tissue paper in a zipper sealed plastic bag. Another is an orange, exploited for a milligram or less of zest and discarded. One sleeps on something called a Bird's Jaw. She says it comes from somewhere in the South Pacific.

Vivid is a woman whose memory consists entirely of the sensation of her tongue in the notch on my forehead. It was given to me by my brother, with a tire pump.