Rome Jewelry and Arms Shop

I love the confluence of jewelry and arms
it conjures up plump wrists bedecked
with bangles, tasteful watches, dangling charms. . .

but then the storefront's gritty door
invites me in to all those secondhand
lives on shelves - clock radio, guitar,

assorted rifles, a Luger souvenir
of World War II - all waiting to come home though many will not reappear.

Unredeemed, most will go down
the river. If you're poor enough
to have to pawn your violin

to pay the rent, the dentist, the electric
bill, the school clothes layaway,
there's little chance that you'll make more music.

Rome Jewelry and Arms Shop. How did
the painter's father drift south all the way
to Georgia's Rome, a small town proud

of the three rivers running prettily through it?Sherman burned the center down before Atlanta. His story's still unsketched

and so is mine, though fainter, older
the outline barely penciled in.
I too am a pawnbroker's daughter.

Maxine Kumin for Maxine Yalovitz-Blankenship

Exhibition shown at Yeshiva University Museum New York, William Bremen Jewish Museum Atlanta, GA, O.K. Harris Gallery New York, NY