We mirrored each other move for move
as we loaded our conveyors to the tills,
with bread and cheese and frozen peas.
My helper, happy but not too helpful
lingered, watching, waiting.
Hers, rocked like a boat without a mooring;
his fingers planted in his ears excluded all,
except the reassuring sound of his own breathing.
I smiled across and reminded her of school
but recognition was not mutual.
I knew she was not how she appeared –
the normal harassed shopping mum.
Her coping face hid the heartache
while shuttered eyes kept spirit fettered.
Now her smile was gone, as was her son
who had wandered off without her.
Ten years of bread and cheese and frozen peas
had passed between us but I was shocked,
for in that brief moment I wore her skin.
Our energy and expectation stolen,
now reality had kicked in.