Linda Pastan's poem Market Day. Pastan was the first poet I ever heard read her work. Sometime in the mid 1970's she visited Brookline High School and I've been an ardent fan of her work ever since.
We have traveled all this way
to see the real France:
these trays of apricots and grapes spilled out
like semi-precious stones
for us to choose; a milky way
of cheeses whose name like planets
I forget; heraldic sole
displayed on ice, as if the fish
themselves had just escaped,
leaving their scaled armor behind.
There's nothing like this
anywhere, you say. And I see
Burnside Avenue in the Bronx, my mother
sending me for farmer cheese and lox:
the rounds of cheese grainy and white, pocked
like the surface of the moon;
the silken slices of smoked fish
lying in careful pleats; and always,
as here, sawdust under our feet
the color of sand brought in on our pants cuffs
from Sunday at the beach.
Across the street on benches,
my grandparents lifted their faces
to the sun the way the blind turn
towards a familiar sound, speaking
another language I almost understand.
~ Linda Pastan, Carnival Evening