Unexpected rain,
a misty, penetrating day,
constant damp, cloudy gray.
As our old truck pulls up with food items,
a long line of people,
many waiting since dawn for our mid-morning arrival,
cheer as we drive up.

At the last minute, we’d thrown a few boxes of cosmetics
onto the truck.

They line up in the drizzle for the food—
mac ’n’ cheese, salad dressing, canned veggies,
frozen chickens until they run out—
children do a food dance in the rain.

Rich people sometimes ask:
Do they really need the food?
We say: When was the last time you stood hours
for a box of mac 'n’ cheese?

The truck crammed with staples,
we set out the cosmetics by the tires,
a splash of beauty products—
lipstick, shampoo, mascara, body lotion, nail polish—
the boxes soaking in the rain.

The women and girls break rank,
no stress about their place in line,
as they scrabble through the bottles, tubes,
beautifying treasures
to paint the gray off their faces.

When was the last time
you knelt before lipstick?

Originally published in Spindrift Literary Magazine