The Jeweler (A Street Poem)

“Old Man Rubenstein”,

that’s the name they knew him by

He’d worked the shop for fifty years

His friends just called him Cy

Each day he’d enter from the back

For at the front door slept

Someone trying to survive the cold

Inside the store Cy swept

The store had been a fixture

On the street for ninety years

Five Generations of Rubensteins

Had seen the smiles and tears

Of young men getting married

Picking rings out for their brides

And in many cases watching them

As they tried them on inside

The street had changed in fifty years

In ninety, even more

But one thing about Rubensteins

Was their famous tiled floor

In the foyer, just inside the door

There were tiles black and white

They were laid out like a flower

It was really quite a sight

When his Great Great Grandpa

Laid the tiles, it was done by J.C Hardin

To signify each customer

Was welcome “in his garden”

Times had changed since Cy came in

The street was not the same

A lot of stores had moved or closed

The malls all held the blame

With suburbs came progression

And with progression came bad news

Most small stores lost their customers

To chains with modern views

But Rubensteins stayed on the street

Never changing one small bit

They had been right here for ninety years

And this is where they’d sit

The front, I mentioned earlier

Each night became a bed

For someone living on the streets

A place to lay their head

Cy would leave a pillow

And a blanket by the door

It was always there next morning

Nicely folded like before

Other storefronts opened up

At nine…right sharp each day

But, Cy would leave the door shut

Letting his sleeping beauty lay

There wasn’t lots of people

Who would shop in Cy’s old store

With the way the neighborhood had died

No one came round here no more

With pawn shops open down the road

And two just up the block

The fact that people went to them

To Cy, was not a shock

He really ran the business

To keep himself alive

For he knew that if he closed it

He was sure he’d not survive

His life was wrapped up in the store

Each decade on a shelf

He was quite the story teller

And of stories…he’d a wealth

He sold a ring once to the Mayor

For his engagement years ago

They were still together nowadays

That was forty years or so

Harry Cooper bought his wifes rings

And his son had done as well

He’d bought a special pendant

When he lost his son in Hell

He’d go down to Giannis

And buy his lunch most days

He was never in a hurry

And most times he’d stay and gaze

He’d stare out the front windows

To a time so long before

Then he’d head back to the jewelers

And he’d still use the back door

He thought of times way in the past

When Christmas windows glowed

With displays of rings and Christmas lights

Lit up the whole damn road

But now, the storefront windows

Were protected by strong bars

There were hardly any customers

And even fewer cars

He remembered when a shopping trip

Meant dressing up to shop

But nowadays, a pair of jeans

And a t-shirt as a top

He’d sit inside the storefront

Until about six everyday

Then he’d put out a clean bedroll

And he’d quietly slip away

He’d show up every morning

Through the back door every time

He’d check on his front doorway

And he’d hum a little rhyme

“If friendship is a flower

‘And a garden grows in time

I’m glad I have a garden

And you’ve spent some time in mine”

He’d make sure when he opened

That he’d turn on every light

Then he’d go out side the front door

And sweep away the night..


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