At the Country Store
Outside of the town’s country store
stand two girls in high school jackets,
their sports names scrawled across the back.
Laughing at the greeting of cats,
they enter, sidling their way back—
past stacks of canned goods and chips,
pastas, plates, and mugs, bottles of Coke
and maple syrup, stacks of hometown t-shirts.
Rich aromas of fresh baked bread and flowers,
coffee aroma mixed with fresh cut cheese, all of it
pulling them to the meat counter.
The tall one stops, leans towards her sister,
says, “Remember now, she’s just lost her son
in Afghanistan.” The younger one nods,
looks up into the face of the older woman,
“Oh, Mrs, Murphy, we’ve come for Mom’s chickens.”
The older woman smiles, “Oh, if it isn’t Sherill…
and Marie. So good to see you girls.”
Names form a sacred bond here.
“How’s your sister Margaret?” Sherill asks.
“Oh, she’s okay,” the woman lies, not wanting
to spoil their day, like that fish someone left out.
“Well, I’ve got your chickens already wrapped,”
she says, eyeing their fresh faces.
At the counter she touches each girl’s hand.
“You two be careful out there,” she says softly
into their eyes. “You know how we need you.”
A bell chimes as they exit the door.
About the Author: Larry Smith is a poet, fiction writer, and editor-publisher of Bottom Dog Press in Ohio where they feature a Working Lives and an Appalachian Writing Series. He is also the biographer of Kenneth Patchen and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He lives in Huron, Ohio, along the shores of Lake Erie.
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Image Credit: Marion Post Wolcott, “Selling drugs and medicines in doctor’s office in rear of country store. Faulkner County, Arkansas” (1940) The Library of Congress