Why is this store so empty?
The cash girl’s eyes are caves
inwards turned, downwards turned,
downwards, downwards to laces,
loosely bound blind eyelet sets,
the red print, white print, blue print,
industrial woven canvas, rubber coated wainscot
in case she has to run.
Work at home, work at the store, bathe
Abuela tonight, scan for cans to pile here,
keep an ear for the door bell
(as if listening will bring people in).
These are the braids of her living now, between
metal aisles and shelves, no customer now, no jangle now,
might as well sweep again. Pick up the broom, the corn-husk broom
and sweep like there’s business tomorrow. Scratch the bristles
into the cracks, dry-scour the floor that's been marred,
in this store, old store, ethnic store, clean away the Spanish,
bleach the tiles twice today, power wash her skin,
beg her body to look like the powerful--
at least until payday again.
March 28, 2008
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt