Poetry March 2010

Pharmacy

The grass is covered up with a brittle frost,
as the customers line up
at the clapboard house,
under a painted sign of a mortar
and club for crushing powders.

In the bay-window display,
apothecary bottles,
one of the old-fashioned scales
with its outspread pans
like the arms of a crucifix,
jars of Bromo-Seltzer,
folded-up wheelchairs,
a breasted dummy’s mastectomy bra.

Now the door opens with a cattail
of jingles, the vintage cash register
rings up its penny change,
and inside, the coughs and sneezes,
the addicts slumped in their niches
trying to hoodwink the pharmacist
by tapping their counterfeit canes,

and from the aisles, the fishy smell
of vitamins and ointments,
where heavy feet pace
the cracked wooden floor,
wearing a path down to dust,
looking for something.

Presented by

Judith Harris’s most recent collection is The Bad Secret (2006). She teaches at George Mason University.

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In