The Vendor

Behind the sorted newspapers stacked
And magazines whose covers are masked,
Eyes fixed while travelers travel across, how
Haughty he stands.

An arm extended caresses the till,
An undershirt exposed to kill,
The snide regard and business lack of smile anticipate
The customer's demand.

Hand rooted in pocket on hip,
Tortoise-shell frames casually slip
Are reprimanded with one swat from the second knuckle
Of his left hand.

A boy with chosen candy he sees,
"Forty-five," he says, no "please,"
And registers a familiar rhythmic punch and roll
With his calloused hand.

He has seen the world, you know!
(Through the grainy light like a picture show.
The buses choke smell rumble leave people from destinations
He'll never understand.)

But his sacred job is the rite to sell,
And smug he knows his job goes well,
Twenty-seven with tax more than we know we are subject to
The vendor's command.

© Douglas Allchin
Harrisburg depot, 1/77