My Mom worked on Hudson Street, Lower Manhattan,
in the days when wholesale meat markets lined
the West Side. She kept books for the partners,
separate from the accountant’s; made tips galore
from the Blarney Stone chain on St. Paddy’s Day,
assuring each had their store-brined corned beefs on time.

Owners would call in their orders and ask,
“Olga, do you have chicken legs?” and she’d reply,
“No, all the butchers say I have very nice legs.”

Sometimes I call the old Chelsea-2 number,
knowing it’s been decades disconnected, hoping
I will hear her voice.

I have a few handfuls of pencils left over,
these once promoted the bygone business, pink, beige, green, blue,
I keep wrapped up in a rubber band, mostly unsharpened except
for the one in-use I wear to a nib. It is seldom I part
with one, but I make exceptions for those I know once loved her.

Chagall 2018