At the Jonesville Walmart, pts. 1 & 2

written July 9, 2020 – [cw: sexual assault]

pt. 1

on the group text I joke with my friends
that I’m going to write a poem

    “at the Jonesville Walmart”

and we laugh about it over our weekend.
“that’s going in the poem,” I say,
but the truth is I haven’t written in months
my website is “404 not found”
& I don’t remember the last time I described myself as
a writer
or when I stopped describing myself,

    at the Jonesville Walmart

the 4 of us split up
& I feel alien yet also like I have returned
to my home planet & I
dislike what I have found (& remembered)
considering this Michigan Walmart
might as well be the Greenfield, Indiana one

& the man who catcalls me in the tortilla chip aisle
(aisle 23?) 
might as well be the latest version
of the boys who held me down 
behind our pine trees
so bold, initially, during the act:

I knew it was coming the moment I 
let myself feel a little too free

coming down the aisle 
in my new Everlane jean shorts & white tee
tied in a knot
like I was asking for it all over again 
— right?

“mmm mmm mmm”
this sumbitch
says to me as he passes,
eyes glinting from my 
36-year-old midriff to
my 36-year-old thighs,
a laugh hiding behind that
insult, masked in fake flattery,
unlike his face as it should — 
behind my mask, I mouth,
Fuck. You.
& let my eyes say the same

he doesn’t expect to see me again,
fool that he is, and be held
just like the 2 boys in my parents’ own yard,
my parents’ own yard! 
couldn’t bear to make eye contact
with me after,
so they lied — 
SLUT! & I buried my shame, deep, 
until I found it again in the lines
of my high school journal & I 
flipped it until

    at the Jonesville Walmart

it was no longer a secret & I would 
NOT BE ASHAMED & I would not 
look away, so I passed that mother-
in the next aisle over
& stared at him, hard,
while he looked down at his feet.

when I made it out of the aisle
there was Lindsay,
& we picked out half & half,
talked shit about him, briefly, 
then finished our shopping
because that’s what women do.

“You can’t take Alison anywhere,”
Lauren jokes to her mom
shortly after at their cottage
& all of us women laugh,
because we can,
because we know
what we’re capable of surviving.

my friends probably hoped 
for something different from

    at the Jonesville Walmart

& I don’t want to let them down.
but these are the thoughts I have
in the backseat as we drive back
to Chicago
& I daydream about getting back 
on my new bike again

feeling a kind of free like I did

    at the Jonesville Walmart

remembering that I don’t have to carry
the shame, the shit,
from that night behind the pine trees

because it was never mine in the first place. 

pt. 2

I meant it when I said 
I don’t want to let you down

I meant it when I said
it’s OK we didn’t kayak

I meant it when I said
I think you’ll work it out with your brother

I meant it when I said
no, you take the front seat

I meant it when I said
that I am trying to be a better friend

I meant it when 

    at the Jonesville Walmart

we split up into 2s
& I worried about everybody

about the Walmart employee who looked 
for beyond burgers for us
about the little girl staring at me while I looked for ripe-enough avocados
about Lauren & Beth picking out the snacks
about Lindsay wanting to make eggs for us 
about me when I can’t even search for fucking tortilla chips
without having to worry about some dude
taking me back to being 16 & 
wanting to make everyone happy &
being too afraid to say what was real
& what was wrong
beyond that I didn’t deserve to be called
a slut
I deserved to have said what really happened
but I buried it in the lines of my journal instead
& all that is way too much
to think about 

    at the Jonesville Walmart

20 years later & what has changed?
we’re all 4 in our own heads all weekend
in all our own ways
I saw her
I saw her
I saw her
I saw us

    at the Jonesville Walmart

when we reunited at the cash register
& I wasn’t supposed to get the tortilla chips anyway!
Lauren & Beth were in charge of the snacks!
what the fuck was I even doing in aisle 23!

we get back to the car
& there’s a flower on the windshield
it was dead by Sunday afternoon
but it was perfect for a moment
the 4 of us,

    at the Jonesville Walmart. 

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