Solemn Shopping

The grocery store was not what we expected today.

We passed occasional empty shelves:

Toilet paper, frozen vegetables – all gone;

Bottled water – all but depleted.

That did not surprise us.

We’d heard the reports; we knew people were panicking 

and others were hoarding, 

both genres having stocked up yesterday and the day before.

We were the late shoppers.

The ones not really wanting to “prepare” for the worst,

Yet knowing we needed some provisions…

just in case.

We were not the only ones.

The store was filled with people.

Yet it was easy enough to maneuver through the aisles.

There were no over flowing carts, 

no people trying to push by or reach over each other.

In fact there was no rushing or hubbub at all.

The store was quiet.

Eerily so.

Shoppers were quiet, somber – solemn really.

Their eyes forward, 

in almost no acknowledgement of other passersby.

There was not even music playing on the overhead speakers.

The layers of motion and sound that typically accompany a supermarket experience seem to have dissolved into a vacuumous of obscurity, the void of social distancing.

The presence of pandemic not yet seen firsthand, yet surreally felt.

When we arrived at the store, I was prepared to experience something akin to the Filene’s Basement of my youth.

Instead, we participated in a laconic processional, each with our own silent litanies.

“Twinkle” Marie Porter-Manning, March 14th, 2020