Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"service with a smile"

how quickly
i remembered the dance
the pop-top, palm cash
into hand,
click-click ca-ching,
thank you, here's your change.
seven twenty-five.
a flimsy straw into the vortex
of someone's nightcap,
or their addiction,
the cigarettes and worn flannel
creep slowly
into my skin.
i cover my awkward,
cuckoo presence: drip
my accent out
in doses, the way it
springs through when i speak
to my family through the phone,
laugh louder at the jokes
from the chauvinists
as if
i, too, grew up in this
particular cultural poverty. here,
my teeth alone mark me as foreigner.
now, i'll practice again the art
of submerging all of me
that does not belong, and waiting
until i reach my car to gasp
for fresh air.

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