the scavenger

by Shalala L., 17

A hot, humid sunny afternoon in a house where food is scarce and heart is rich. In it lies a big, black duffle bag in the middle of your kitchen. Open, unzipped. In it you find things to eat, things to savor, things that are Caesar’s and things of God. You find a pound cake that someone will never eat. You find ground pepper and other things of use. You find peppermint bark and you scowl because you hate the sting of peppermint in your nostrils. You find powdered milk and onions and green tea and zucchini and carrots and basil and cilantro. You find a garden of the east side. You find red fruit you should not eat. You find cereal and oats and things of the land of milk and honey. Wine drips from your chin as you find tea bags, Caprisuns, coffee, and coffee cream. You find turmeric, the four seasons, white garlic, red cabbage, and green avocado. You find something delicious from a store you would never go to. You find a cake for someone’s birthday labeled “donations.” You find bananas and buttermilk. You find canned food with red beans. You find mayonnaise. You find yeast. You find sparkling water and shining seas. You find apples and oranges that could never be the same. You find lemon and lime to keep away the cold. You find two loaves of bread and five pieces of fish for a family of twelve. You find milk that has probably been out of the fridge for, maybe, a day to a week. You don’t know. You hoard it anyway. You find blueberries and maple syrup. Usually, it just says syrup or table syrup and if you look pretty close at the ingredients you’ll see it says high fructose corn syrup, which is not really like maple at all except for the fact that they’re both God’s creation. And you can find sweat on your brow and aching in your back as you hunch over this black bag that will provide sustenance and hope. And in the black bag, you also find dirt and the blood, sweat and tears of those who labored before you, and you find answers because you missed that before. And you’re putting all these things away; you’re hoarding them so they can be yours forever.

Miami, Florida