“No! NO! Absolutely not!” the older man in front of me
yells at the grocery clerk when she asks him
if he wants to donate $2 to our local Food Bank,
such anger first thing in the morning,
and he’s just infused the clerk’s day and mine
with whatever bitter sauce his life has sunk into,
he doesn’t know that another man the day before
had told the clerk she wasn’t worth her hourly wage,
and she had to tell him, “The door is right over there,”
he doesn’t know she might have to make use
of the Food Bank herself, with her husband off work
long-term from an injury, and food prices rising,
with her elderly parents over a thousand miles away
who might need her to take time off work
to travel there to help them.
Would it make a difference if he knew?
Meg Freer grew up in Montana and now teaches piano in Kingston, Ontario, where she enjoys the outdoors year-round. Her prose, photos, and poems have won awards in North America and overseas and have been published in journals such as Ruminate, Juniper Poetry, Vallum Contemporary Poetry, Arc Poetry, Eastern Iowa Review, and Borrowed Solace.
One thought on “Difficult Times by Meg Freer”
An important reminder that none of us know what others are dealing with and a lot of the time clerks are required to ask such things. It IS a difficult time and I hope we can manage to be kinder to one another. Thank you for writing this. This kind of anger does have a kind of butterfly effect if we let it.