The Other Side Of The Counter MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   The Other Side of
The Counter

The hard work is done.
Deep breath; we open the door.
Hopeful faces rush toward us.
Every age, every race.
The older group is friendly, grateful
almost humble,
quick with thank-yous
But, the younger adults are hardened, unhappy
They've got less to say
Yet they're loud and rough
They know about dreams;
how they don't come true
Least not for them
Children tag behind
The only faces without a trace of shame
Play clothes worn
Sneakers falling apart
I let them twist my hair.
They like the broken toys we have there.
We play the piano for them.
Everyone speaks a different language,
but we all know a smile.
My little friend laughs when I tickle him.
He is shy around the Church Ladies.
He hides behind my legs and plays peek-a-boo.
I put him down gently.
He looks up at me,
My heart melts.
When I hug him, he holds too tight.
His mother calls him.
He squeezes my hand.
Uncle comes over.
Tickles him until he lets go.
He talks nice very loudly as I step away
But tears are glistening on my friend's dark cheeks
A lady I know whispers in my ear
"Go back behind the counter"
I realize I was staring.
"You belong on the other side."
The familiar voice persists.
My conscience seems to echo it.
I follow the voice.
Uncle pushes my friend by in the stroller.
He is crying and twisting around.
Uncle mutters "shut up" and then,
"I'm gonna beat this kid bad if he don't shut up"

My chest begins to ache.
But I give a little wave, a half smile
And remain helpless - on the other side of the counter.


by A. P., Trumbull, CT



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