Coconut by Paul Hostovsky

Bear with me I want to tell you something about happiness it’s hard to get at but the thing is I wasn’t looking I was looking somewhere else when my son found it in the fruit section and came running holding it out in his small hands asking me what it was and could we keep it it only cost 99 cents hairy and brown hard as a rock and something swishing around inside and what on earth and where on earth and this was happiness this little ball of interest beating inside his chest this interestedness beaming out from his face pleading happiness and because I wasn’t happy I said to put it back because I didn’t want it because we didn’t need it and because he was happy he started to cry right there in aisle five so when we got home we put it in the middle of the kitchen table and sat on either side of it and began to consider how to get inside of it

The poem "Shopping" by Faith Shearin, from The Owl Question. © Utah State University Press, 2002.

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My husband and I stood together in the new mall

which was clean and white and full of possibility.

We were poor so we liked to walk through the stores

since this was like walking through our dreams.

In one we admired coffee makers, blue pottery

bowls, toaster ovens as big as televisions. In another,

we eased into a leather couch and imagined

cocktails in a room overlooking the sea. When we

sniffed scented candles we saw our future faces,

softly lit, over a dinner of pasta and wine. When

we touched thick bathrobes we saw midnight

swims and bathtubs so vast they might be

mistaken for lakes. My husband’s glasses hurt

his face and his shoes were full of holes.

There was a space in our living room where

a couch should have been. We longed for

fancy shower curtains, flannel sheets,

shiny silverware, expensive winter coats.

Sometimes, at night, we sat up and made lists.

We pressed our heads together and wrote

our wants all over torn notebook pages.

Nearly everyone we loved was alive and we

were in love but we liked wanting. Nothing

was ever as nice when we brought it home.

The objects in stores looked best in stores.

The stores were possible futures and, young

and poor, we went shopping. It was nice

then: we didn’t know we already had everything.