Tzedakah
by Charles Rammelkamp


The old woman shuffled up to us
as we stood at the traffic light
in the rain, after Kol Nidre services.

“Could you help me out with some spare change?”
she begged, before launching into the litany
of her complaints: “I got diabetes
and I ain’t had nothin’ to eat all day,
and my son….”

It was Yom Kippur, right?
I fished around in my wallet,
handed the bent old woman a five.

“Your wife gonna give me somethin’, too,”
she thanked me, eyes shrewd slits,
in case Abby, who was fumbling
with her purse,
took my charity as covering us both.

The light changed,
we went to our car.

“I know that Catholic Church you just been to,”
the woman called after us.
“They good people. God bless.”






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