Grocery Shopping

The snow melted before
you returned, crusted over
with business cards,
caked in the city’s asphalt.

You returned and I escaped
not because I did not love you
but because I needed to break
the routine of knowing

what you would do
and what I would say.
I needed to stop the gestures,
predictable as garbage collection days.

I needed to go grocery shopping.
My cart glided like rollerblades.
As I danced down the aisles,
the French woman sang the blues.

After I purchased the bread
we would break together,
I stopped at a café
and watched the world rotate.

I watched myself watching you.
Two lovers touched, as if for the first time.
I remembered you being a stranger to me.
I remembered being a stranger to you.

The 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry

We are pleased to announce this poem as a finalist for the 2017 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry, honoring the independent press’ best poems and hybrid works of the year. The winners are selected by an external panel that judges all pieces blind and chooses the full list of 12 finalists from hundreds of entries. Alternating Current does not determine the final outcome for the judging; the external judges’ decisions are final.

Rebecca Gould is the author of Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus (Yale University Press, 2016). She is also the translator of After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems of Hasan Sijzi of Delhi (Northwestern University Press, 2016), and The Prose of the Mountains: Tales of the Caucasus (Central European University Press, 2015). She teaches Islamic World and Comparative Literature at the University of Birmingham.