Fitting the Pieces

The clinical social worker
tells the Friendship Circle
of the Golden Age Club
at the South Pasadena Senior Citizens Center
to ask for what we want.
That night I say,
Jack, I want a Valentine’s gift.
February 14 he drops three king-sized bars
of Life Buoy soap right in front of the snap beans
I’m stringing for supper.
I could cry.

I just picture him,
porcelain dust powdered on his overalls,
shuffling down the Personal Care aisle of Sav-on Drugs,
squinting over the cost per ounce and sniffing.
Carbolic scent seeping through
the double wrapper gives the strongest smell for the money.
The cellophane is slick to his fingers
as a good Italian glaze.
Like a coiled heavy-duty steel
twenty-five foot tape measure
it has a heft he knows in his hand.

Hannah Ackerman