At the Feed Store
Marilyn J. Baszczynski
he greets me by name;
his graveled voice stumbles
over a small smile. Its weight
hangs heavy at the corners.
I no longer ask, “How’s business?”
This store is not his own,
his father no longer helps out.
My footsteps echo on hardwood aisles.
He no longer asks, “How’s the family?”
We talk about weather while his eyes
lower to the computer screen.
I repeat my order.
He heaves hefty sacks of grain
into the back of my van,
neat stacks for easy unloading.
I wonder if I can ask to unload
some of his sadness, palliate
the pain, lessen the yearning
for his children growing up
out east away from their father?
We joke instead about the bandaid
holding on my van’s headlamp,
230,000 miles, still starts every day.
“Kinda like me,” he shrugs.
We laugh, but his eyes don’t.