fiction, poetry & more

52nd & SPRUCE

by Allison Whittenberg

An old man sits on the cement stoop
of the storefront
while Fred strums the strings of his guitar
with the tips of his still nimble fingers
at the end of his song
he passes his hat, saying
‘You don’t have to be
to help a fella…’
Meanwhile some other brother
from the kingdom of heaven and earth
hands me a flyer
like I’m really interested in the final call
Sisters wearing majestic robes
offer me dark wood statues
oiled with sweet perfume
in this loud market
their incense competes
with the musky smell of
sizzling barbecued meat
these women tie their hair
with bright printed cloth
yet it is the girls
with more bead than braids
on their heads
barely out from their mamma’s aprons
that remind me of the bygone time
when I wasn’t
just visiting

Allison Whittenberg is a poet and novelist (Life Is Fine; Sweet Thang; Hollywood and Maine; and Tutored, all from Random House). She lives in Philadelphia.

January 2011