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In His New World

by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro


Dawn, my father tied on his white apron,

sliced cold cuts, never a thumb on the scale

(he pronounced "tum" in his Yiddish accent)

slapped each slice down on white waxed paper,

tied it with string, his lips moving as he totted up

prices with a pencil nub.

Sixteen hours a day, six and a half days a week,

he stood behind the counter on swollen feet.

Home was mostly for sleep.

I had to go to his store to see him.

When the cash register ca-chinged, the spring clips

in each section were like mousetraps for singles, fives,

tens, twenties. The bigger bills he slipped beneath the drawer,

kept as ready cash in case we had to escape the country.

At closing, he slid the metal gate

across his storefront, checked the lock

by rattling the bars like a prisoner trying to get back in.