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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 41

Holy Week

“Maundy Thursday? The ceremony for washing the feet
of the poor,” Mister Jacobs explains,
standing at my teller’s window
while I count out
the weekly pile of bills he comes here for,
one of those old-fashioned people
who doesn’t use an ATM.
He once told me
he’s never used a microwave oven, either.
I’ve just commented we’ll be closed tomorrow
for Good Friday, the weekday he usually comes in.

“Commemorates the Last Supper, too,”
he adds, collecting the bills with jittery hands.
“From the Latin mandatum, ‘commandment,’”
he goes on, such a smart, cuddly old guy,
and I notice again the faint numbers
tattooed on his wrist.
“A Passover Seder,” he mutters,
and I wonder if that’s bitterness I hear
in his voice, or just the way he swallows.

“Happy Easter, Mister Jacobs!” I sing
as he turns away,
the words like birdsong,
more music than meaning,
but he seems to stop in his steps,
as if he wants to argue the point,
but all he does is smile, a little sadly.
“You, too, Denise.”

Charles Rammelkamp