The Crystal Lite, like a marriage of Kool-Aid and crystal meth,
catches the light and glows from inside its plastic gallon container,
becoming its own advertisement for this lemonade stand,
its pre-teen proprietor standing in the scant shade
of a stop light pole
behind his fruit crate counter
with its stacks of styrofoam cups.
He has chosen his clientele—
perhaps thirsty from a long wait
in the doctor’s waiting room in the clinic
or the hospital across the street.
To his back, a retirement community with no house
more than 3 blocks from the hospital—
its inhabitants like products on a shelf waiting to be picked.
When they pass the stand,
memories of generations of such stands
perhaps flood their minds,
and thirsty or not, they stop for a cup.
I am the woman with her foot in a cast,
sitting in the passenger seat
of the car pulled over to the curb.
The woman reaching through the window of the car
is my sister, holding out the white cups
with the too-sweet yellow shining through
as though radioactive.
She was my long ago pattern for everything,
including Kool-Aid stands with 5 cent
paper bags of popcorn and ice cube slivers
floating in the Tupperware pitcher of cherry Kool-Aid,
a plate on the top to repel flies
lazy in the July heat, orbiting our sweaty heads
like precognitive sputniks
buzzing in the minds of rocket scientists.
We had not a clue.
The prompt today was to write a poem based on a picture.