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Penny Candy

by Don Narkevic

for Michaeleen
My sister e-mails me,
attached, a photograph,
post-chemo, her bald head
like an alabaster jar
in which a penitent woman
saves myrrh
for the burial of one she loves.
She asks me to recall
the name of the corner store
on 8th and Olive
where she bought penny candy
with dimes, she confesses,
she stole from Mom's purse.
I have no idea.
Since the diagnosis,
her memories
flicker like flash cards,
the arithmetic wrong.
The need to make it right
eats at her like prodigal cells.
The need to put her mind in order
begs across the miles
to a brother who knows
a purposeful wound to the bark
releases the most fragrant resin.
Karleski's, I tell her when I visit
that Saturday before she dies,
and her eyes sparkle like new coins.
Once upon a time,
Karleski's sold penny candy
to a blonde-haired girl
running home from Vespers,
the night nipping at her heels,
the sweetness like communion
on her tongue.

Don Received his MFA from National University. His recent poetry has appeared in Convergence Review, Earth Speak, and Off the Coast. His recent short story publications include Colere and the anthology, Seeking the Swan. In 2005, Main Street Rag published Laundry, a poetry chapbook. Also in 2005, "The Interview," a play, won 2nd place in the Playwright's Circle Competition.