I think sometimes about my old customers.

The ones who died young. 

There were so many of them: painters, roofers, 

landscapers, handymen. Salts

of the earth. 

Some had been coming into my shop

for decades, always with the sense 

that it would go on like that forever, 

the two of us – shopkeeper and customer –

Sisyphus and Tantalus playing our little roles 

in our mutual little corner 

of hell, impervious 

to any profound or meaningful life changes. 

But then one day, 

you’d hear it 

2nd or 3rd hand: R. had a massive heart attack 

while sealing a customer’s driveway; 

B. died of throat cancer; F. overdosed on painkillers; 

carbon monoxide got P. 

One after another they peeled away, 

most of them leaving very little behind, 

just a few meager possessions, 

a handful of memories

and a reminder of what precarious 

ground we all stand on. 

I think sometimes about my old customers. 

I think about them the way I think about 

how the sun would pour into the shop 

in the early mornings, 

filling the room with bouncing light, 

and a feeling 

of something glorious yet incomprehensible 

contained within it, something that hung

suspended in the air

for about a half-hour or so, 

then poured out through the southern windows, 

as though it had no business 

being there. 

I think sometimes about my old customers.

I think about how they 

were too good 

for what little 

lives they were granted. 

M.P. Powers lives with one foot in Berlin, Germany, and the other in South Florida, where he rents out construction equipment. He is the editor of 11 Mag Berlin, and has been published recently in Red Fez, Chiron Review, Glitchwords, The Daily Drunk, Neuro Logical and others. He tweets here: @mppowers1132

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