Present Tense: Seattle

A bell ringer hipsways by market stalls,
bellows hello to the man who brings the chanterelles,

the immigrant families building bouquets of tulips
to launch like ships, the cheese makers and fishmongers,

knife sharpeners and kombucha concocters.

She rings her instrument along each row signaling time
for the buying and selling to begin.

Are you feeling lost? Did you think I shifted
scenes to a mercado in San Salvador or an Irish city street?

Please! There’s no need for a Starbucks here!

At the Farmers Market, the tangerines reign supreme
along with local lettuce and trendy Tuscan melons.

When the bell ringer passes the blueberry farmer with eyes
of indigo spangled in gold, she tells him if a fork falls,

a stranger is coming to dinner and then walks on quickly

looking into the light snow of the cherry blossoms.
Her grandmother would have washed her mouth with soap

for even looking at a man — a light bulb turning on
in the old woman’s head: gangster, predator, no-goodnik.

Don’t sweep after midnight she’d say — or you’ll miss

your good luck. She of the Lithuanian shtetl,
she who knew what it was like to have to obliterate

the scent of winter Daphne, the acres of daffodils.