The Empty Shelves

The little concrete building

with bars over the only windows,

the ones at the front

looking out over the busy road

at all the customers they had hoped to draw in.

There are signs in the windows,

advertising the cigarettes that they planned to have on the shelves.

 

The neon light hangs slightly off-center,

never having been plugged in at all.

It is for some drink or another

that never graced the shelves,

only that unlit sign stands testament to what

was supposed to have been.

 

Everything was ready and appearances were good,

on the outside.

Only the inside of this little store

was never stocked.

No one ever entered its doors, seeking

spirits or sustenance.

Or conversation.

 

No one stood behind the counter,

doing the job she was hired for.

No one pulled his truck up to the front door

and unloaded cases of Coca-Cola

or Ritz Crackers.

Or Moon Pies.

 

Empty.

 

No substance there at all.

Sometimes we are like that little cement brick building.

The structure is there, everything’s ready,

as far as the outward appearances go.

 

But–

we forget to get our insides ready.

Our soul is empty and not at all prepared for what we want to appear

ready for.

What we’ve said we can do,

we haven’t always prepared our hearts

or souls

or minds for.

 

I drive by the little store and think

about what a shame it is that they didn’t stock the shelves

first

and then put up the signs inviting people inside.

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