Black market

I tell you this: I was slightly afraid
of the fruit they brought to my sick

bedside— waxy, too-red apples, perfect
unblemished oranges. They smelled

of the black market, which is to say
an idea of America bundled with dried

fish smells, rubber slippers, ground
coffee sieved into oily paper sacks.

I remember how, for his first grandchild,
my father traded his one good bottle

of Courvoisier (a gift from a rich cousin)
for a Fisher-Price music box record player.

This was years after he’d sworn off
alcohol, but kept the bottles for status.

The toy played ten tunes on plastic discs
with grooves, just like real records.

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