My Grandmother Shoplifting at the Pick ‘n Save

Because her hands are chapped from raking,
she tucks a pair of gloves beside the coffee
mug in her coat. Aisle by aisle, she’s drawn
by the gleaming racks of glass, the strange

melancholy of dish detergent. She takes
what she needs and what she doesn’t –
metal pail, deck of cards – a small meanness
filling her. Some days she dreams her sons:

the oldest outside Millford, the pipe-fitter
in Des Moines, their faces reflected in the dead
brilliance of floor cleaner. A stock boy nods
as she pockets a Christ Church pamphlet

from a stack near the register. She thinks
of the day she found her sister drowned
in Millford’s pond, limp body on the bank
in a red-checked hand-me-down

dress – such a hot July and all those people
at their picnics, their blank faces rising
before her even now as she brushes against
a blue ash tray, palms a tobacco tin, moves

past stacks of bath mats and towels.
Nothing can stop her as she steps
toward the open exit, rain breaking the hack-
berry’s sluggish thorns. She can smell

the nearby creek as if it were streaming through her,
mix of pine pitch and thistle. She knows
it’s fed by the underground springs of Kosciusko.
She knows the waters beneath run cold.

Bruce Snider is the author of two poetry collections, Paradise, Indiana, winner of the 2011 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize, and The Year We Studied Women, winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. His poems and non-fiction have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review and Ninth Letter, among other journals. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he has been writer-in-residence at the James Merrill House in Stonington, CT as well as at the Amy Clampitt House in Lenox, MA. He currently lives in San Francisco and teaches at Stanford University.