I can hear thunder grind against the earth, vibrate with imprecations. Nature's tossing down her gauntlet, promising extended sieges, threatening to lock us in tragedy the way she locks a fly in amber, so I flee to the store, wanting to lay in plenty. Entering the bright delirium, I harvest cans of gumbo and chowder, embrace beets and turnips who've repented living as fanged roots. I gather wheat in tiny wheels of pasta, while a stock boy wipes his hands on his blue apron and reaches crackers for a child, and the scarf lady summons me to read a label. Mark this, the inauspicious aisle where we have met. I say, build an altar. Let the sideshow of breads praise our communion. Let chèvre and camembert commemorate the place where we say to one another, Three inches! We're in for it now! and other liturgies of festive panic. Because soon enough the thunder will take back its fulminations, black clouds break from their huddle, wheel and gallop off, leaving us shy and silent, wondering what that holy moment meant, what this altar signifies, the brief joy strangers gave to one another.
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