February 1: Groundhog Goes to the FoodMart

by Renee Carter Hall

 

Mrs. Fox, pushing her cart
in her best Sunday dress, string of pearls
at her red throat, reminds him
of the tenderness of spring chickens,
gives him a smile, white and sharp.

The Rabbit family crowds the cereal aisle.
As he chooses a plain cylinder of oatmeal,
Mother Rabbit says hello, steers the small talk
toward the petunias she’s planning
to brighten up the burrow,
the rows of cabbages and carrots
Father’s mapping out for the field.
The kits tug on Groundhog’s overalls, eyes bright,
whispering to him, one more snow,
one more afternoon of sledding, one more fort,
one more snowbunny with mittens for ears.

Sleepy-eyed Bear shuffles in, only nods
when anyone speaks, gets in line
with a quart of milk and a canned ham.
His bleary gaze meets Groundhog’s,
and he adds a can of coffee, economy size.

Groundhog waits in line, stares at the tabloids
while the chattering squirrel cracks gum
and rings up the shoppers ahead.
He feels their eyes on him, all watching as if
he could melt the gray slush outside with a glance,
could give them warmth and new life on a whim.
Even in this harsh fluorescent light,
he will not look at his feet.

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