Buying a Yam

by Eric Chaet

Tall Rick, one of the 2 third-generation
brother bosses of the supermarket
stands behind, prompting the trainee
manning the scanner & slick computer
where cash-registers used to be—
she has taken Mary’s place
who laughed for years at my dead-pan jokes
& whistled & chirped like a bird—
Mary & her husband moved to Arizona recently—
in front of the bright-lit aisles
of cunning packages of counterfeit food.

The trainee doesn’t know what I’ve brought her
from the obscure onion & potato corner:
It’s a yam, I say—
it looks like a clod of dirt
hard, brown, lumpy, weird
blemishes & petrification spots
single thin comical hairs sticking out
like those from my ears—
they seem to have no business
where they’ve appeared—
but heat it up a while
& inside it’s sweet, & unusually nutritious—
how I wish I had a gang of friends like that
on cold gray days like this—
what I’ve been doing all these decades
still generally kept secret, despite my efforts
& winter coming on.



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