blue hill avenue

by Arlene Wilgoren Dunn

The bouquet reaches my nose two stores away.
“One loaf of rye bread, please, sliced.”
She grabs a loaf, drops it in the slicer
Which whirrs through the bread.
She comes around the counter
To hand me the bread
And take my money.
The end piece is mine
On my way home

The smell of pickles at the front door
Makes my mouth water.
A large barrel on each side.
Kosher dills in one,
Crispy fermented sauerkraut in the other.

“Don’t touch the merchandise!” the produce man says.
He flips open a paper bag, puts fruit in it, weighs it and,
Grease pencil at the ready, writes the cost on the bag.
Another man marks a bigger bag with the amounts
And adds the total.
He puts the small bags in the big bag
We pay and off we go.

The butcher’s hands are big and scarred.
He wears a bloodied apron and
Glides along the sawdust covered floor
“Who’s next? C’mon ladies, we don’t have all day!”
Chickens hang on the wall with
Heads and feet and feathers.
We pick two – one for soup, one for roasting.
Then off with their heads and feet
Pinfeathers singed with a torch (pee-yoo).

In the rear of the Prime Market
A man filets fish on a big butcher block
Buckets of guts, bones and skin below.
Skanky . . . but flounder will
Taste good later

Zayde sews custom made suits in his tailor shop
Always hard at work
Marking, pinning, basting, sewing, ironing.
Pins in his mouth, chalk in his hand,
He adjusts the jacket on a man or a mannequin.
I bring him half and half coffee
With double sugar
Sometimes he lets me sip.

May 2019