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Author Biography
Poetry By
  Melissa Westemeier

Published on: 4/1/2010
The 7-Eleven at 37

At 16 the 7-Eleven
allures -- it's an enticing place.
Luridly colored forbidden
fruits line the shelves:

    Mohawk Schnapps
    Powerball tickets and Penthouse

Walking through the aisles with friends
they try on adulthood like new sunglasses,
admiring the view, unaware
that focus can be blurred.

They gain sophistication with the addition
of cars, keys and extended curfews,
gaping lustfully at things illegal,
within reach, but out of grasp.

Aware of quasi-official status
they select other poisons
that don't require legal age
or a photo ID to purchase:

    Big Gulps
    Slurpees and Twinkies

At midnight blue lights
hum above the icy parking lot.
I pull my dented minivan
next to a car full of teenagers,

their boisterous laughter,
blaring stereo fill my ears.
I rush past every item
they covet but cannot buy,

grab a gallon of milk
for my kids' breakfast.
Such an unglamorous purchase.
I consider a pack of gum

and the fact that despite
an array of laws and ordinances,
the teenagers roaming the aisles
of this convenience store,

are freer than me tonight.
Unblinking, the clerk passes my change
across a counter smeared with fingerprint
ID's of a thousand hands.

My trip to the 7-Eleven,
wrought of desperation and necessity,
leaves in its wake youth,
enraptured by things I no longer crave.

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