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And What Would You Be Wanting, Little Miss Judy?
Judy Shimek Drechsler


Half a block down and across the street from
childhood, the tiny store rises from an uneven sidewalk,
 the screen door ripping gracefully
from its wooden frame three steps up.

I open it to the scent of apples in a barrel, dill from a pickle
crock, cool waves of air escaping from the meat counter
where Mrs. Nelson pulls out six hot dogs strung together,
wraps them in white paper for the lady in the flowered house
dress with a grocery bag hanging loosely from her hand.

I pause at the cloudy glass counter where Smith Brothers
licorice whips fill a see-through jar, needles and threads
line up in colorful abundance, a jar of sharpened
Ticonderoga pencils are sun beams in a jar.
 Bit-O-Honey, bubble gum cigars, Candy Buttons and cigarettes,
Jujubes, Red Hots, Oh Henry! bars —
my mouth can still taste the sweetness.

Mrs. Nelson's spotted white apron lies around her ample hips,
her dark hair is streaked with gray and pinned up on one side,
curled girlishly around her chubby cheeks. With a pudgy finger,
she pushes the correct button. I hear the clang of the brass
cash register, see her give its crank her signature enthusiastic
turn, know my memories are no small purchase.

From Cowgirl Skirts and Music Boxes (forthcoming from Publishing Partners).
Used here with permission.

Judy Shimek Drechsler has lived in an 1867 renovated Victorian house in Port Townsend, Washington (“a charming Victorian seaport village, “ she calls it) for the past 20 years, with her dog Emma. She stays busy tutoring foster children, singing, playing bridge, working out, and keeping up with a vigorous yoga practice. Most of Judy's teaching career was spent in Anchorage, Alaska, where she taught literacy courses for the University of Alaska-Anchorage and was a full time primary teacher in the Anchorage School District. Judy says poetry speaks most clearly to her when writing about her family and when major life changes hit—“as they are wont to do as you get older,” she adds. Judy's newest book is Cowgirl Skirts and Music Boxes.




Post New Comment:
This poem reminded me of how I could go to my local candy store back in the 50's and for 5 cents, I'd get a bag filled with candy, lots of them 2 for a penny! Great poem.
Posted 02/19/2024 06:40 PM
This poem brought back the memory of Squirrel Chews at Daggets store with its glassed in candy counter.. and me trading in found soda bottles for 5c each to spend on my favorite treats. You have painted the scene with your words . j
Posted 02/18/2024 09:12 PM
Nostalgia at its best! I love the vivid descriptions, especially the metaphors.
Posted 02/18/2024 08:46 PM
Ooh, this sparks happy memories of my own! Thank you, Judy!
Posted 02/18/2024 04:34 PM
Arlene Gay Levine:
From the perfect first line - "Half a block down and across the street from childhood" to the last- "know my memories are no small purchase" Judy's poem is a delicious treat.
Posted 02/18/2024 12:40 PM
Lori Levy:
Very picturesque. I can see the scene clearly
Posted 02/18/2024 11:57 AM
Fun! I have a particular pull to Port Townsend since spending a week with Raymond Carver there in the eighties. Nineteen eighties :-).
Posted 02/18/2024 11:57 AM
Wow! Nostalgia at its best! Your images take me to yesteryears butcher shop. candy store, and even the dime store for colored threads. To find Oh Henry candy bars in your poem is the greatest delight!
Posted 02/18/2024 11:23 AM
Posted 02/18/2024 09:12 AM
Angela Hoffman:
This poem is pure delight.
Posted 02/18/2024 09:12 AM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I love the description and detail in this visual nostalgia poem. I can see the "lady in the flowered house dress with a grocery bag hanging loosely from her hand" and "Mrs. Nelsons spotted white apron lies around her ample hips, her dark hair is streaked with gray and pinned up on one side, curled girlishly around her chubby cheeks."
Posted 02/18/2024 08:56 AM
Wilda Morris:
Nostalgia! Our neighborhood store was not like this, but still it brings back those memories. The title is wonderful-the clerks in those neighborhood stores knew the names of the customers, even children.
Posted 02/18/2024 08:47 AM
Larry Schug:
I miss stores like this. They used to be ubiquitous. What a candy section!
Posted 02/18/2024 06:39 AM

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