jujubes candy
by Sandra Anfang

A blight on the corner that rose up around it
the earth arched its back and pushed
the cobblestones this way and that.
My grandma’s building should have been condemned.
In barren lots we watched the neighbor kids
with sticks and rocks and jealousy
whatever imagination could conjure.

Through dark green halls the texture of rice pudding
we walked their endless length on blind fingers;
broken light bulbs festooned the strips of ceiling
mocking our fear.

In grandma’s tiny cache of rooms
a purple horsehair sofa rode the green linoleum
splashed with yellow flowers where time
had not yet eaten through the floorboards.

The kitchen was not a room at all
but a fist that held an ancient stove
a tiny rounded fridge and weeping sink.
We stood in the living room to stir
matzoh ball soup on the stove.

A trip to grandma’s bathroom
mustered all my courage;
the plumbing hocked a loogie
as I sat counting tiles
white hexagons from the World Book
and the toothless spaces where there were none,
a mantra to stem my revulsion.

Grandma kept a coffee can of clothespins
an army of figures ran maneuvers under my command
across the wasted floor
quelling my fear of the fire escape
the mad woman down the hall
& sirens droning in the street.

As sunset neoned the sofa’s prickly fuzz
we spilled through the entrance
a tiny squadron ambushing Mr. Curran’s candy store.
The thick glass case reached nearly to the door
its belly crammed with candy buttons
chocolate babies, jujubes.
For a nickel you could get a scoop of ice cream on a sugar cone.
Mr. Curran didn’t like the cheesy orange ones.
“Pah,” he spat. “It’s all junk nowadays.”

Mouths muzzled in silence
jaws working the candy hard, we tumbled
back into the Country Squire
back to suburban lives
where no cobblestones snagged our toes
and life was what you saw
was what you got.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have fond memories of visiting my paternal grandmother in the Bronx in the 1950s and 60s. This poem sums up my experience. It was so much more exciting than our humdrum suburban lives.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sandra Anfang is a prize-winning Northern California teacher, poet, and visual artist. She is the author of four self-published poetry collections and several chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Poetalk, San Francisco Peace and Hope, West Trestle Review, two Healdsburg Literary Guild anthologies, The Tower Journal, Corvus Review, River Poets Journal, Clementine Poetry Journal and Spillway. She has a chapbook forthcoming in 2016 from Finishing Line Press. Sandra is a new California Poet/Teacher in the schools and is the founder and host of the monthly poetry series, Rivertown Poets, in Petaluma. To write, for her, is to breathe.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a selfie I took at home in July for my upcoming chapbook, Looking Glass Heart. My son was trying to take some portraits of me, but we collapsed into laughter again and again to the point of no return. It was great fun. To order a copy, visit finishinglinepress.com.