Night Errand

by Eric Berlin

O, Great Northern Mall, you dwindling oracle
of upstate New York, your colossal lot

of frost-heaved spaces so vacant I could cut
straight through while blinking and keep my eyes

shut, I’ve come like the flies that give up the ghost
at the papered fronts of your defunct stores,

through the food court where napkins, unused
to touch, are packed too tight to be dispensed,

past the pimpled kid manning the register
who stares at the buttons and wipes his palms.

If I press my eyes until checkers rise
from the dark – that’s how the overheads glower

in home essentials as I roam through Sears,
seeking assistance. I know you’re here.

For this window crank I brought, you show me
a muted wall of TVs where Jeff Goldblum

picks his way through the splintered remains
of a dinosaur crate. There must be fifty

of him, hunching over mud to inspect
the three-toed prints. I almost didn’t

come in here at all, driving the opposite
of victory laps, and waiting as I hoped

for the red to leave my eyes, but my urgency
smacked of your nothingness. I did it again –

I screamed at the woman I love, and in front
of our one-year-old, who covered his ears.