at the culinary & home decor store

The store is shaped like a child’s scribbled heart. Veiny, pointed at the tip, two wings at the top. It is crowded and small and on a corner and we inch along the wall past the whisks to the welcome mats, a lady is standing there, excuse me, oh! It is Janet.

We rush to each other, her head fits under mine, her eyes fill half her face deep brown, her hair is light and curled, it is blond shot with grey, I become frightened, I embrace her again, she has a healthy glow.

We start talking. Her fingers are gloved. Her eyes fill half her face, her makeup is impeccable, she once lived in France, her hair is blond shot with grey, her daughter is there now, in France, designing lingerie, finally, after graduating, she asks, what are you doing, after graduating, and around us the store goes milling with Princeton’s white upper class.

We continue talking and her eyes fill half her face and her face is very small, very pointed, heart-shaped, smooth, she is nodding and speaks softly with many nods and high-pitched coos signaling agreement, in fact she does not speak very much, in fact out of her mouth ballooning out fall light bulbs, they are bright and round and glass and they fall to the ground.

Janet, I try and signal to her, you are spitting out light bulbs, they are falling to the ground. They are bright and round and glass and they shatter and they bloom out of her mouth, it is unstoppable, I cannot stop it, it is magnificent, I watch them pour out in a slow motion parade, I feel sorry for her and my eyes fill half my face trying to signal her. Her gloves do not rest on her lips. In fact I do not know where she put her hands. She is resting on top of black. It is the coat she is wearing. It makes her face have a healthy glow, she is beautiful, her daughter is beautiful, she is designing lace undergarments in France, Janet does not speak very much, her lips are thin and a light rose pink, they are perfect and well-kept, she opens them, light bulbs fall, shatter all over the floor. Janet, I am telling her, Janet lightbulbs are falling out your mouth, please, Janet, they are all over the floor, at first they are beautiful, but they are glass, through the curved translucent orb you can see distantly the hot metal coil, there is something antique about them, something quaint and pristine, and they break; Janet, please, and the lightbulbs keep coming, I can feel her dwindling, puddling, exhausted from emitting so many bulbs, it is like labor, mountains around her over her, she has such a pretty face, a heart-shaped face, a quiet mother whose husband lost his job whose daughter went abroad who wants to design clothing in Africa who is going to Mexico with her family who has her own business whose son does track and wants to be an engineer, there are the light bulbs, bulbous, filling her tiny delicate mouth, they are falling, around us, over the floor, I try to signal her, I fall into her eyes, I am embracing her, I am telling her goodbye, she closes herself, withdraws into her black coat, she is very small, she could’ve been French, never mind the glass on the floor, never mind.