The Grocery Store Across the Tex-Mex Border (Poem No.4)

At first,
we supplied the store with products from Sam’s in El Paso.
The vegetables we got from a produce stand in Juárez, called Guma.
“Thank God no one ever attacked me or robbed me at the grocery store”,
my mother says,
for the simple fact of being a woman
(in a city where a woman’s life is not worth much,
with over twenty years of abductions of girls and young women,
unresolved).

One day a lunatic paused outside of the shop,
who knows what he was asking for.
He was a drifter who had kicked out of the other grocery store down the street.
They sent him to my mother’s store.
My mother, humoring him,
told him that the other store shouldn’t mistreat him for being a drifter.
My mother’s hand shook when she offered him a bottle of Coca Cola.
The vagabond said,
“Are you afraid?”
“No sir, why should I be afraid?”
my mother replied.

My mother had us put stock the refrigerator with soda.
But one day,
I broke a glass bottle and it shattered about three meters out onto the sidewalk.
So she stopped putting my sister and I on soda duty.
We stocked fruits, vegetables, canned goods, rice, beans, cereal, soap, and other products.
There was a time that the sodas
were exploding on their own
because they were kept by the windows,
where the sun warmed the glass bottles.
In the heat they burst open.
My mother used to stack the plastic coca cola cartons
on top and on bottom of the bottles
to keep them from rolling away if they exploded.

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