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Deli, Montreal

It is my first job.
I am fifteen
and lousy at everything.
The old man holds my wrist.
I try to slice the meat thin, thin.
I try hard not to break plates.

In my ear he tells me
again and again
about that time
before your father even was born.

I don't want to listen.
I want to quit this place that stinks
of things hanging from hooks.
My life, I wonder, my real life,
will it ever begin?

But he leans in close
and this time it's about
soldiers marching, marching

like this, like this, you understand

and the uncle or the nephew
gone for bread
and never heard from again

and the women
good women
lined up against a wall

thin boy thin,
like something,

he says to me
something you have never seen ...

you in this lucky country,
and how can you know what I mean,
you in this big lucky country?

Mike White

Addendum to a Miracle
The Waywiser Press

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