She knew she couldn’t stay another day.
Sam finished his beer. How old?
Shit, thought you were 18
They all want me to be 18
We do he agreed.
He helped her order everything that was left.
California, he announced to her and the empty dishes
Sam unfolded a large map, a complex origami project.
This goes back to when it was terribly normal
to drive forever, cars blackened the country
Like buffalo –
It will take a few seasons, he cautioned
Gold Coast, Swimming Pools, Movie Stars
South is faster, you sure?
She knew about seasons – swimsuit season, flu season
He scooped up a computer, three loaves of hard bread
and the girl: top hat, leg warmers and a pink tutu
Once they cleared the domino buildings
the sun, a basketball orange suspended mid-dribble
on an intractable asphalt sky
motioned them to follow its everyday death.
They encountered others – anyone with only a few things
to carry, escaped the quickest
some survived, although they didn’t know it at the time
traveling west served as a last act of defiance.
She told Sam stories
to fill in the silent trudging towards the flaming sun
how she felt trapped between buildings
that squeezed daylight into switch blades of light
the Goblins yelled from the shadows
back and forth, trading an persimmon for an apple
Buy, buy, buy
Don’t be afraid her mother ordered
but don’t eat.
hand size strawberries,
cantaloupes the size of her head
buy buy buy the Goblins
dressed in same kind of clothes and shoes
as she –
wore fantastically high platform boots
swayed from booth to booth in her short dress
An uncertain tulip, the stalk too weak to hold up the head
buy buy buy.
Computers glowed at the stalls; displaying web sites with stories,
tiny children held up gigantic strawberries
grapes, bananas, it’s all good, grinned the Goblins,
all organic. Natural. Certified.
No, no we will find the cans. Her mother said
dragging the girl from the fruit.
We’ll find the kind already
chopped up into bite size
bits and pieces, stored in aluminum recycle, reuse, reduce
they pushed the cans home in metal carts with broken wheels.
now the metal carts are filled with bodies.
Bring out your dead.
Did they eat the fruit, the dead?
By the time she knew, it didn’t matter
and the Goblin market was gone.