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Sometimes I Am Wrong

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Regular customers sometimes behave
Over-privileged. They think they know us well
And have more leeway in what they can say
And are mistaken.

He’s known me for years
From more than one store.
I knew Harold before the chemo
Tore a hundred pounds from his body.
When he came back from his absence
I thought he had died,
Didn’t recognize him at first.
Huge smile in my heart. Exhale of relief.
How have you been, so glad to see you,
Pleasantries and grasp of handshake.
Today he killed all that
When he threatened to spank me and
He buried it deepdeepdeep
When he took it back and said
No, you’d like it too much!
Chuckle now each time I passed.
Dark grin somehow I’d never noticed
Until then when I wanted to scrub off my skin
In a bath. With Comet to take off all the grime.

It was like that time when I was new and
Felt so bad for Sonny.
Oldold man come in every night
Right before close
Always alone
White beard
Black fannypack just below belly.
I always imagined him watching the telly
With microwave dinners
How much thinner he was
Since imaginary wife died and
Wasn’t beside him
To see that he eats.
I cried for this man,
Telepathically scolded his kids
Who didn’t visit and pitied
His lonely more than my own.
And then someone told me
They saw him at the Y
At the perfect vantage point
Drinking it in staring under the shorts
Of boys playing basketball.
He told us he was growing out
The snow on his face
That year to be a Santa in the mall.
Trapped ladies in alcoves
Because he thought he was a stud–
When I’d seen they’d had enough and
Might not make it out untouched or
Mentally stable I’d offer a hand–
Can I help you find anything, ma’am?
Always yes and in another section.

Rejection much too kind
Like me today
In my silence.

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