Friday, March 21, 2014

The man behind the deli counter—



the one with the helpful tips
about stuffing pork chops
and steaming sausages--
that man was my favorite.

He was a Norman Rockwell kind of clerk,
someone who provided comfort
in an often uncomfortable world,
a good example of what most people
would say they like about life in a small town.
.

That man, according to the Maine State
Sex Offender Registry, weighs 165 pounds.
is five feet, seven inches tall,
and is a lifetime registrant.

I had already noticed that his eyes were blue.
They smiled back at me from behind the counter.
But I didn’t know that he is my brother’s age,
or that he lives in Monroe and celebrates his birthday in May.
I didn’t know that somewhere there is a child
who wakes up most nights remembering his touch.

He was just the friendly man at the deli counter,
and now I’m wondering how to feel about him,
this one who was my favorite,
how to reconcile the words in his record
with my sense of his kindness,
how to watch his hands cut and weigh
my grass-fed hamburger
without picturing those same hands
in a dark room on some child’s body.

Tuesday is the day they make the sausages.
I wonder if he’ll be working.

2 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth McIntire said...

Startling. Stays with you. I totally understand this confusion.

10:17 AM  
Blogger bythesea584 said...

Yes. It is a sense of confusion in instances like this. There was an editorial in the morning paper about a man who'd killed his long-time girlfriend in this area. It made the point that, often, people who commit violence against others or who abuse others are very likeable people to those outside the abusive relationship.

10:41 AM  

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