“Bright Fruit” Published This Week

In a little online journal called The Ravens Perch

I wrote this poem during the pandemic, after weeks of not going into grocery stores, isolating myself within the confines of my house. It is about the almost too-muchness of the experience of grocery shopping after a few months. The colors and smells, the noise and bustle of a lot of people, along with a strange reticence to get too close to anyone, or even to make eye contact that might encourage closeness. It was a strange time for many who took the pandemic restrictions seriously. We stayed home, we wore masks if we went out, we were afraid to engage with others, and we were afraid to pick up a piece of fruit because of contamination. Especially at the beginning, the grocery shopping experience was fraught with anxiety.

Bright Fruit

After months spent alone
each day the same,
what a delight of colors, smells,
Avocados and blood oranges,
mounds of lettuces
bright lemons yellow and brown

And all this bustle. Strangers amble
up and down aisles, or hurry, disgusted
or excited. Arguing, articulating a point
with grand sweep of arms. Hard to shop
with all the flash and flap
finally slide into checkout.

I’d like to touch the weathered cheeks
of the woman─ eyes downcast─
who pulls into line behind me. A mother,
grandmother, perhaps,
she lives alone. I
can tell
by the half-dozen items in her cart.

I’ll bet she knows precisely how much money
Is held in that purse she hugs
tightly to her side.
She is thinking if I put back
that fresh orange
there will be enough.

I imagine
a life spent stepping
for husband, children, neighbors,
pushing her wants away.
As a rock worn by relentless
sea, bit by bit
she recedes.

When I place the plastic divider
onto the conveyer,
a small gesture to allow her groceries,
she lifts eyes to mine and smiles
a surprise
the bright

of a cut watermelon.

Published by Jean Anne Feldeisen

I was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey to Mildred Shropshire and Theodore Felsberg Jr. I was raised in Galloway Township and graduated from Oakcrest High School in southern New Jersey in the Sigma 67 Class in 1967. I attended Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, and graduated from Stockton University in Galloway, NJ, in 1974 with degrees in Philosophy, English Literature, and (almost) music. After that, I taught piano to local children and adults in the 70s and 80s, had a catering business, "Jean's in the Kitchen," from 1980 to 1992, then went to graduate school at Rutgers Camden to obtain my Masters's Degree in Social Work. Since 1996 I have worked as a therapist and counselor, first in New Jersey for five years and then, when our family moved to Maine, in Augusta, Maine, for five years. For the past 17 years, I have had a private psychotherapy practice in Gardiner, Maine, During the pandemic, I packed up and moved my office home to Washington, Maine. On the year of my seventieth birthday, I decided to write and self-publish a memoir about our parents' World War II romance, Dear Milly. I began blogging on Medium in earnest in 2020 and have posted more than 265 stories, including a block of stories about my catering career which I hope to turn into a book in the next year. I have been writing and collecting poetry since childhood but never showed it to anyone. Recently, I learned how valuable it could be to join a group for feedback and support for my writing. I have taken several courses and written many poems, and recently had several poems accepted for publication. Off in a new direction, again.

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