Redefining and Finding Structure for the Coffee Wife

by Hannah Warren

a man at this coffee shop took his wife to Costco and traded
her out for sunscreen so retail worker number eighteen
could slap a UPC on her forearm and bin her for resale

the wife folds her arthritic body onto a shelf, a raccoon
squeezing her backfat thin as water only flexible bones
and silt filling her jello mold of pleated skin

retail worker number seven doll-dresses her every day
orange sundress, onesie shaped as a red panda, denim
pants with an elastic waistband and a crop top

shoppers swarm their ears to her chest listening
for parlor hurricanes and earthquakes
they pinch her ankles and wait for her shiver

hands rummage her pockets and swipe across her eyebrows
customer mouths like butcherbirds peck her freckles
and wisping hair and carry her back to their nests

her space on the shelf grows smaller and the wife shrinks
nothing left but wrists, elbows, an undefined jawline
and soon even those are purchased and separated

her lightning throat thrumming on a fireplace mantle
her blue blue veins wrapping around a cast iron poker
alive and thumping with afternoon sunlight

Photo Credit: Henry & Co.