Featured Poet 

Sophie Ross

A Supermarket in California 


What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the side streets under the

trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
        In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket,

dreaming of your enumerations!
        What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of

husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you

doing down by the watermelons?

        I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the

meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
        I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are

you my Angel?
        I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my

imagination by the store detective.
        We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes,

possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

        Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard

point tonight?
        (I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
        Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the

houses, we'll both be lonely.
        Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home

to our silent cottage?
        Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when

Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat

disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

Berkeley, 1955

Photo By Sophie Ross