Quintin Collins

What Remedies the World Will Supply

Thanksgiving, just past midnight in a 24-hour Walmart,

one checkout lane open for last-minute purchases.

My sister recounts her boss’s recurring stys

as we amble to the point of sale to buy pie crust.

Nothing good happens in Walmart at this time of night.

        That’s why they lock all but one entrance,

                where a cop stands guard, rests hand on gun.

This environment invites a kind of gravity that sucks

in all beings who would trespass solemnity and privacy.

        Sensing too much levity in our conversation,

a woman inserts herself in our talk. To fix a sty,

        put some baby piss on the eye.

The kind of wisdom that holds you hostage

        until you hear every part of the ritual,

she monologues the remedy: the sterility

                of baby piss, eye droppers to apply

the baby piss in the eye. In a 24-hour Walmart

                        just past midnight,

it has to be piss. Wet floor in electronics,

a man who troubles the door cop with a soaked crotch,

cure for what ails. Not even newborn innocence prevails

in the shallows of shoppers who forget the pie crust.

A new lane opens to admit a mother who balances

her infant and a box of diapers, so brave to flaunt

        a diaper so full of magical elixir.

We wade toward the conveyor, now aficionados

                of baby piss and baby piss applications,

        graced by this evangelist

who finally notices she vacuumed all our interest

in continuing to talk to each other or even nod and smile

in response to the advice. The baby cries.

To plant a last seed of wisdom as we pay, the sage mutters,

mhmm, the best fix. Just a drop of baby piss.

Quintin Collins (he/him) is a writer, assistant director of the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program, and a poetry editor for Salamander. He is the author of The Dandelion Speaks of Survival and Claim Tickets for Stolen People, selected by Marcus Jackson as winner of The Journal's 2020 Charles B. Wheeler Prize. Quintin's other awards and accolades include a Pushcart Prize, the 2019 Atlantis Award from the Poet's Billow, and Best of the Net nominations.