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Bob Early’s Grocery Store in Arkansas
In front, the grocery basket is full
of watermelons. There are only four.
On this day the bicycles stand
unchained to the posts they lean on.
The thermometer assures the street,
“Dr Pepper Hot or Cold,”
while the new Coke machine waits
for the day it too will be
like the screen door:
and used to children’s hands.
Fat Bob Early looks out late
the watermelons in the heat.
The afternoon lies on the ground
He puffs outside
and looks past the watermelons;
what is thrilling is his son’s red bike.
Sidling past the basket, he looks—
yes, the street is quiet as it sounds—
hoists himself onto the thin bike,
a watermelon on wheels
likely to fall and break open
until the bike’s shuddering fit passes
and the wheels straighten.
Past front windows packed with neighbors
Fat Bob Early rides, laughing
first from fear and then speed,
out of the town