we found her in the seventh aisle,
next to the jars of blackberry jam,
sucking on a soft strawberry,
flicking its green crown with a finger
and crying. a long, low, single note.
like a lone bassoon in mourning
for the rest of the orchestra, out on hire,
marching for the football team.

so I offered her a fresh, ripe berry.
you offered her a chocolate tart.
but she turned me down with a grunt,
reproached you with mocking gesture
and spat a white seed at your open-toe shoes.
did you have them cleaned? you said you would.
though I pressed you to soak them with vinegar and cloth.

slight, delicate twists of wrists and fingers.
in a series of slow, languid movements,
we took, each, an ankle and lifted,
peeled her away from the sticky, steel shelf.
an elastic twang sounded as the left leg came free.
but we’d done her no harm. she’d have told us herself.
in your shirt’s left breast pocket, the tiny fists beating.