Bag for life

by Luke Otley

My cashier was a tall woman of around 27,
the tips of her hair were brittle as ice chips
and her teeth small and discoloured.
I made a nonchalant gesture
with my bank card pincered
between forefinger and thumb
as if to say ‘let me use this’
without opening my mouth.

Next to me a mother,
I don’t know how class works these days
but I’d guess upper-middle,
was 10 pence short of her shop.
She wanted a bag for life, ‘here’
I said,
and handed her the silver coin.

I felt pretty good about myself,
scampering across the road
so she wouldn’t meet me outside
and be forced to thank me again,
and I kept feeling good
all the way home,
even for the duration of the extra block
I have to take
to avoid the homeless
man sitting like some frigid Buddhist
on my street.