Walking to the store and back / A Christmas poem

I sneeze
and a woman says
Bless you
without smiling
or looking up
from a milk crate of kids shoes

the plaza is;
cheap plastic, nail polish remover
heat singed hair and toasted cheese
older men, canes propped, talk
pausing to test a cooling coffee
or look up at women walking

I felt guilty
plucking pine branches
virgin bulbs, nature strip blooms
as though I was cutting a life short

once I forgot
shock of green in my fist
tucked in my palm
for another six blocks
before laying it down
in a pub window box

a sleepy teen boy
works the chemist check out
he served me last week
we had laughed - ballad blaring
from a porsche pulling up
he fumbles with my mouth gel
folds the receipt

if we were friends
I’d probably leave
with a reference, a wink
or slow broadway kick

I came home, venetian blinds open
you often tut when I leave them up
but I’d sooner face a burglar
than a shadowed room at noon

I wanted Christmas holly
borrowed underneath my skin
tinsel for hair, glacé fig eyes
so I made panforte;
ginger grating
cinnamon simmering
Bing singing
of treetops glistening