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Annual Poetry Contest

The Market Place

By Ralf Norton  
2003 Contest: Second Place

Heather sat down to rest at the market place,
Kneading tired feet, shedding a torn shoe,
She placed a finger through the sole,
And philosophically pondered minor miseries:

As an old man paid squintingly for four eggs
And two onions with a five dollar bill;
While a small black boy stuffed his worn pocket
With an overripe orange.

"Run like hell," she mused,
Taking her finger out of the hole;
Stuffing in a piece of cardboard,
Watching the old man get change for a dollar.

A little helper counted out six ears of corn,
Thought about it, poked in two more;
Complained of being tired and being there since eight.
Heather noticed a little slot under the counter top.

A wrinkled lady edged a bill from her change purse,
Handing it over, she looked disappointingly inside;
"Got any pig face,"
"All out," as he tucked the bill into the slot.

"Five o'clock, have to get home,"
Mused the pint-sized helper;
"Mom's sick, hafta fix supper."
The merchant handed him some coins.

The helper picked up the bag of corn,
A dozen cracked eggs;
Stuck the coins in his pocket.
And went home.

The merchant emptied the slot and closed up.
Heather fingered her shoe at its broken back,
And leaving, noticed the commotion at the corner;
"It's the market-man, hit over the head . . ."