written by Mercedes Lawry
White bread is favored at the foodbank.
I applaud those who choose 12 grain
and point out Dave’s when we have it.
“I can’t afford this,” I exclaim, putting us
on level ground. They check the amount
of sugar, expiration date, whatever ingredient
causes them distress. I know who
likes chocolate, the pull-apart pastry,
a strawberry rhubarb pie. Seventeen languages
are spoken by our clients. Taste buds and preferences
range over the globe to settle here in the chilly
warehouse. Whatever we have is whatever
we have. Maybe croissants next week.
We are not dispensing food, we’re personal shoppers,
searching, suggesting, apologizing, going
for the laugh. It’s the children and the babies
that lift my spirit and break my heart.
We offer cookies, bags of gumdrops, a cake with neon
blue icing, as if this glut of sweetness
will ease their troubles, not rot their teeth
or nudge them toward the diabetes, a shifty
character who’s lurking over shoulders
with hungry fingers and boiled eyes.
I’ve previously published poems in such journals as Poetry, Natural Bridge, Nimrod, and Prairie Schooner. I’ve published three chapbooks – “There are Crows in My Blood”, “Happy Darkness” and “In the Early Garden With Reason” which was selected by Molly Peacock for the 2018 WaterSedge Poetry Chapbook Contest. I received the Vachel Lindsay Poetry Prize from Twelve Winters Press for my manuscript, “Small Measures.” I’ve received honors from the Seattle Arts Commission, Jack Straw Foundation, Artist Trust and Richard Hugo House, been a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee and held a residency at Hedgebrook. I’ve also published short fiction as well as stories and poems for children.Mercedes Lawry