soil

from across the aisle i hear rapid percussion. a dull downpour. the grocer, a kid, maybe 16, hefts a wax coated cardboard box to eye-level and tips it forward with the precision of a dump truck. a red onion rolls past my toe. it disappears under a shelf. lucky bugger escaped, i think to myself. 

a memory surfaces of potatoes bouncing into a blue milk crate. crickets and cicadas cut the air into high pitched rhythms, pulses and sustains. my babcia's humming and muttering setting a tempo for the beat. once in a while she glances over her shoulder, eyes the crate, then me, then the crate, 'potrząsnąć'-she says. shake it. the contents roll around each other, some leap headlong tumbling into the dirt trenches at my feet. 

now, i imagine the relief of their roots reconnecting with the dirt. a moment of communication, reconnection. 

then, i just wanted to get the job done as quickly as possible. scooping them up, stealing their hope and sealing their fate, before she noticed. she glances again and i know i have to shake them again. 'cichy' -gently, she reminds.

he watches me for a really long time. i work in gridlines. left to right. top to bottom. i wonder if he wonders what i am looking for. one by one i check, and pile, and order and categorize 100 avocados. i know what i am looking for. uniform brown skin, soft crown and bottom, a slight give to the flesh, a green seat under the loosened stem.

even a potato deserves dignity. it demands an understanding. she understood this.

he doesn't.

i pack up my brood and mention to him that an onion escaped under the shelf. 'no problem, i got it' -he says. i pay and as i pass out the sliding doors i can still see the onion sitting motionless in hiding. the young grocer has moved on to the next aisle likely forgetting his promise.