my father’s boots creak in the aisles
trousers caked brown
with the mud of the fields.
it is December cold and he chooses quietly
a can of corn, flour and lard, eggs.
and on good days: moon pies.
on special days: moon pies.
he lays it all on the wooden counter
where the skinny grocer without a word makes the tally
with a stub of a pencil.
the corners of his mouth crease and my father signs,
agreeing to the sum.
agreeing to settle on payday.
they make a bargain between men.
one poor, the other one poorer.
my father and I holding our groceries like a newborn baby
full of promise, full of tomorrows
walk into our separate winter.
Gil Arzola lives in Valparaiso, Indiana with his wife Linda, two dogs, and two cats. Previously, he has been published in Whetstone, Grasslimb, The Elysian Review, Across the Board, and The Tipton Review, among others.