The city is quiet
as though it’s cried itself out.
Circle Market, its windows busy
with stickers for surfboard wax and bands
with names like Make-A-Mistake
is dark now too. Last year
the owner was held up,
but he handed over the money
and wasn’t shot.
When I read about it,
I sealed two twenties and a ten
in an envelope and walked over
with my dog on a leash.
We went there a lot
when the kids were little,
popsicles and nights we ran out of milk.
Mr. Lee on his high stool
by the cash register, presiding
over the aisles, the dusty cans
of Campbell’s soup and Hamburger Helper,
Huggies and Ajax.
His body looked sunken now
and his eyes jerked over to the door
when he told me the man pointed
a gun at his wife—she’d been sitting
on a stack of the Sunday Chronicles—
and warned him not to reach
for the phone. After that
he wouldn’t let me pay for my pint
of Haagen-Dazs and added
an ice cream sandwich on top—
for the child he said, even though
the youngest is grown and gone.
When I protested he slipped in
a Snickers bar and when I insisted
he couldn’t keep doing this,
he tossed in a handful of Chiclets.
Last summer when my friend was visiting,
I sent her instead, but he’d seen us
walking the dog together
and wouldn’t let her pay either,
sneaking in a pack
of American Spirit Lights and a yellow Bic.
The Greeks believed
every human act is perilous.
I can’t go in there anymore.