Counting Back to Zero – June 17, 2010

Posted: June 17, 2010 in Samples of My Writing

Here is another poem from Partake. This one about my childhood or the bits of it I remember now. A few might recognize the names. Partake will be in bookstores shortly.

Counting Back to Zero

Every week my father bought groceries
And gas at Redden’s Store. Cigarettes too.
A Pack a day. Later cases of 24 Old Vienna.
He spent most of his wages at Redden’s.
Years later when I stood by his grave
With my brother, sister, and mother
The air grew thin and useless.
The little bit of earth I grabbed
Could not bring him back.

That day at his graveside
I thought of his blue eyes and peaked cap
As he’d pull into Redden’s
To fill up his 1964 Ford
My brother and I would run
Into the store eager to spend his money
He didn’t say a word
When we got to the counter
Our hands full
Of Eat-More and Coffee Crisp bars.
Except to tell Walter Redden to
Put in on the bill

Walter quickly scribbled down the numbers
Despite his missing thumb.
When he finished totaling everything up
He handed my father the receipt.
Who folded it up and put it
In his back pocket and said,
Come on kids.

Later, my father would fish
The folded receipt
Out of his pocket
Smooth it out on his knee and
Add it to the stack of others
On the shelf over his bed.

Other families got ahead,
Bought new cars, houses.
My father remained content
To pay off Redden’s bill
Every two weeks.

  1. Marie says:

    Love this poem – reasonates very strongly with this small town girl. Can’t wait to pick this volume up to add to my Hilles collection…

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