The Lady At The Jewish Bakery

This evening
As I sit
Under the locust tree
The song of the birds
Seems faint and distant
The bush with its mauve flowers
And the magnolia
Now lush and green
Are there
But my mind
Has drifted
Back in time
I do not know
If these spells of melancholy
Come with age
But I feel my eyes
Well up with tears
As I recall
The lady
Who always served me
At the Jewish bakery
In Toronto
When I was a student
Back in the late 1970s
Her eyes were blue
Her ears appeared large
Her face
Bore the marks of age
And suffering
But her smile
Was bright
And her kindness
Contagious
She always encouraged me
Study hard, you're smart
Be kind to your patients
Be sure to listen to them
All the while
I stood nodding
With tears in my eyes
My responses
Were uncharacteristically
Soft and gentle
As my gaze
Remained transfixed
By the numbers
That had been
Tatooed on her skin.

by Raymond Farrell

Comments (6)

i Googled moove flowers and Google suggested mauve (light purple) flowers. hmm? i never heard of moove, but, then again, PH does say you are from CANADA! ! I ENJOYED this poem. to MyPoemList. well done. i wonder how many readers will 'understand' the reference to tattoos on...her wrist? so, the lady served 'a lot more' to you than bagels and rugelach! ! yes, rugelach is one of the FEW things i miss from my first (of four) marriages; i got rugelach at her parents' home! bri ;)
A wonderful read Raymond. Lucky the lady was to have survived, smiling because she knew how precious life is and how important it is to be kind to people for who knows what stories lay behind their masked faces.
Beautiful heartfelt story poem...funny as a 9 yr old I always picked up the Sunday bread roles from the title of your poem..the smell fabulous [1945]not very long after the world and I knew of the holocaust...since and to this day I love the Jewish race and their kindness...regards
A study of true empathy Great write Thanks BB
I thought only Jewish people cared, felt the pain, had their heart torn out by these disgusting and mortal deeds against the Jews, persecuted, no crime committed but still condemned to death. Now I know, that poets do have certain feelings that others don't because for most their hearts beat differently that the rest. I thank you, Mr. Farrell for this deeply moving poem. When, I was a child my piano teacher also had numbers tattooed on her wrist. As I learned to play the noblest of instruments, I kept thinking how can things that call themselves human have committed such crimes, all crimes against the innocent included. Your poem made me cry, yes they were tears of pain but also of joy to know and see that a holocaust survivor, could inspire such a wonderful poem with so much compassion and human feeling. I thank you.May your kind soul be blessed.
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