We Meet Once a Week at the Butcher’s
by Lori Levy

He’s always there, the bald Russian man
in front of the Glatt Kosher butcher’s, plunked
down, belly protruding, on a folding chair
too flimsy for his weight. All day he sits in the sun
in his heavy red apron and gray beret,
solid and immobile as a chunk of roast,
his purpose unclear to me. He rises sometimes
to stroll inside, checking, observing. But mostly
just watches the lot, the cars pulling in, out.
We never speak, nor even smile,
but once a week my path crosses his
and for a second—jolted, memories dislodged—
I could almost say Yes, I believe in miracles.
I peek again on the way out, wondering,
as he returns my glance, if he can read my mind,
if he knows that my grandpa, dead thirty years,
inhabits his body, calls through his eyes.
Is that you, Poppy Ben? I want to ask.
The lips are straighter, no jokes in them.
And my grandpa was not a butcher. Still,
as I drive off, I can almost hear him say,
Come, dear, sit on my lap,
chuckling as he begins a story
or attempts to draw one from me.
Adjusting my Poppy’s glasses.

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