All morning we cleaned the shed beside the church—
one of those places all over America
where the hungry poor come to stand in line
for day-old bread and canned beans,
for commodity tubes of hamburger,
bags of shredded orange cheese,
MRE-style pouches of beef stew.
We hauled out the cardboard and the plastic
from the cases of cans of corn
and mac-and-cheese and fruit cocktail.
We scrubbed down the rusty metal shelves;
we vacuumed up the dust, tidied the refrigerators.
We made room in the freezers
for the dated meats and donuts and pies
another crew pickes up from the market.
We didn’t talk much.
We know each other well enough
to work in silence—
four women, the Tuesday volunteers,
each of us old enough to have a few scars.
At noon, Phyllis handed out some
blueberry muffins she’d baked.
We took a break, ate
standing outside in the parking lot
in the late September sunshine.
Then we got back to work.