Counter Weight

I was third in line
bottled water and
Peanut M&Ms
in my hand
Tanisha
at the cash register
smacked bubble-gum
boasted big
flamboyant hair and girth 
that rubbed over 
the counter-top edge.

She looked down
with lazy eyes
at some customer-lady 
who mumbled something 
as she was digging 
deep into the labrynth 
of her shiny red purse.
Tanisha just said:
“Mmm-hmmm,”
and turned away

The line grew
behind me out 
to the Hershey bars.
Tanisha reached up
stretching high
squeezed a red pack
of cigarettes
and turned back
as the line
had now grown 
to the licorice ropes.

Customer-lady mumbles
something else.
“Mmm-hmmm,”
Tanisha says 
and turns as the line
is now behind 
the pretzel station.

Tanisha steps towards 
the lottery case 
and the line
has now gone out
the door and past 
the fuel pumps.

Tanisha takes another
step as a family 
joins the growing line. 
The streetlights
flicker on. 
Tanisha takes another step.

The line is now down 
past the Taco Bell 
as Tanisha tears a ticket 
for lottery prizes 
and turns back 
to face the register.

The patrons shift
their bodyweight 
back-and-forth
all up and down
the chain like EKG
energy and the line
now protruded
into downtown
Saint Paul.

Our earth rotates
at a ferocious pace — 
about a thousand and
forty miles per hour — 
Tanisha moves 
step by step
from scratch-offs 
to the tobacco boxes
and takes the cash
and gives change back
at just about 
one-one-thousandth
miles per hour
to counteract 
cosmic forces
and keep the earth
and universe
from unraveling
into total chaos.
_______
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