Charlotte Matthews
Patron Saint of the Convenience Store

                In this life we cannot do great things.
                We can only do small things with great love.
                            —Mother Teresa

Think how tired she must be,
after she’s drawn letters in the dirt, 
jumped rope with beggar children.
cradled a man in the streets of Calcutta. 
She can still come up with phrases 
well worth writing down.
And here she is, in the 7-11, 
buying clove cigarettes to bring 
back the smell of High Mass.
Me—my purchase?  A bright red
Tootsie pop, hard-shelled exterior 
that only gives way and melts.
I’m thinking how bleak
the emptied city pool looked
on my way over, how it’ll be 
winter soon so sadness will set in.
She stands unswerving, probably 
coming up with another great quote.
It is only through repetition 
that we make ourselves.
Her heart, like this store, is never closed.
I follow her out the automatic doors
to the steamy black parking lot.
She slides into her seat, adjusts 
her habit, drives away.

Found In Volume 42, No. 03
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Charlotte Matthews
About the Author

Charlotte Matthews is author of two full length collections:  Still Enough to Be Dreaming and Green Stars.  Her work has recently appeared in Virginia Quartely Review, Chataqua and Cave Wall.  She is a professor at Hollins University and the University of Virginia.