Let me ask you a purely academic question: Hello?
— Dean Blehert

Friday, May 14, 2010

On the Passing of Suburban Shopping Forests

The trees are gone now - they just weren't practical,
what with cereal boxes and CDs sliding off the branches,
shopping carts catching on roots and overturning, skidding
on ice, water leaking through the leaves, making a
soggy mess of the movie popcorn, shrimp lo mein sliding off
root-tilted tables into customer laps, having to shake
snow off the videos to read the titles, all the books
at Borders mildewed and cobwebbed, kids vanishing
into the upper branches, poison ivy in the men's room,
birds splatting into bright-skied movie screens,
pushing faces through itchy spider threads to
reach the pharmacy, squeezing between saplings to
get green cream cheese (with ladybugs) smeared on
your bagel, branches snapping in your face as you
moved to the counter for your large hazelnut mocha
with a little green caterpillar thread-dropping
into the whipped cream, no place to park, thorns
snagging and tearing nylons and shopping bags,
all those CREATURES underfoot and overhead as if
they owned the place and not very clean either -
mangy deer nibbling the vegetables, foxes, squirrels,
skunks, moles, woodpeckers making their messes
right in the aisles, scary rustlings
and crashings behind the canned goods,
raccoons in the bakery, snakes in the Place
for Hair, that huge moth spreading its wings
on the fresh lettuce, bees swarming the Baskin-
Robbins Pralines and Cream, just the tops
of Boston Chicken and First Columbia Bank
showing where the beaver dam submerged them,
a lightning-felled branch spilling silk scarves
and handkerchiefs, shattering a cosmetics
display case, gallons of perfume wasted
on old dead leaves, clouds of gnats
kamikazing your eyes so you can hardly read
the prices, things plopping into your soup
in all seasons - yellow leaves, branch-loads
of snow, acorns, winged whirling seedpods,
silky puffballs drifting into everything,
trying to separate your salad-bar pickings
from dead leaves and seeds in all that rush
of wind and rain, huge black wet creaky
tree trunks looming up on all sides and in
the leaves overhead a sudden crackle and WHOOSH!
as a thousand grackles swirl upwards shrieking -
HEADS UP! - yuchhh! They've been gorging
on blackberries! Oh, it's so much more
convenient now that everything is flat and
air conditioned and asphalted and concreted and
glassed and roofed in, sleek floors, straight
wide aisles, level shelves and tables, nothing
alive but us and some adorable puppies in a
window and lovebirds in cages, all we need
so easy to reach, so CLEVER! I don't know
why we didn't think of this sooner!

by Dean Blehert

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