Noah Kucij • The Belt

Eleventh hour on some clocks, though
in Walmart the celestial fixtures
never blink. At home the dog,
a virus slashing through her gut,
might die. I’m in the beauty aisle,
and then the tools, the drugs, to find
a dropper good for forcefeeding,
towels to absorb the awful
torrents, find some potion of
electrolytes and faith. The other
quiet millers mill around
with carts of diapers, milk, and Softsoap,
shirts untucked and shoulders loaded
down with care. We merge into
a single lane, we slap our stories
on the belt, and it might be
exhaustion, but I want to kiss
the haggard cashier older than
my mother, want to buy the waitress
still in uniform her cans
of soup, to say for the adult son
with Depends, Ensure, and Lysol
any prayer he wants. I watch us
in our last, most honest minutes
putting bread on credit, double-
bagging bleach and ketchup, trying
to keep what we love alive.

Noah Kucij’s poems and essays have appeared in Cortland Review, Slow Trains, LOST, and in two collections from Toadlily Press. He teaches at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY.