When I was little, we used to go to that icecream store.
Odd-shaped creations, long and narrow…
A closet stretched out on a torture rack.
Seats that looked stolen from a school room
turned their back to the windows that ran the length of the place.
They were inevitably inconsistently occupied by a recurring cast of characters:
The teen-aged couple, closed off to the rest of the world,
desperately trying to find some new way to open to each other.
They shared a large bowl. But he took more than his share and she pretended not to mind.
A fish out of water father.
I don’t know then that perhaps he did not live with his kids.
Perhaps he did not like his kids.
They tried to smile and he looked sullen.
Or perhaps vice-versa.
A toddler who made me feel inexplicably queasy.
I do not know what flueroscent flavor was smeared across his cheeks and lips.
This all lived in the background of my mind.
Though the sign boasted only 31 flavors.
It seemed the forever freezer stretched back through the wall.
Out the end of the building. Across city, state, and country borders.
Tub after endless tub. Flavors familiar and exotic.
Barely a dent made in the chocolate. Freezer-burned daquiri ice made my forehead wrinkle for reasons I could not explain. Vanilla. Sherberts.
My mother died a year ago.
And I am thinking about grief.
How it comes in all those flavors like icecream.
Surprising in their variety and depth,
As merciless as brain freeze
On a sweaty August day.