A Kentucky girl,
alone & cozy warms her nerves
under the hand dryer. It’s summer.
The bus station bathroom is small; a mirror
hangs on the wall. Outside there is
the San Francisco air & sights.
A long white t-shirt covers her large hips
like the shirts my body clung to when my buttocks
& thighs bulged after I left the Army.
Her ebony skin shines into my eyes
& all I think is slavery days are over.
She reminds me of a native Panamanian:
afraid someone will steal her soul
if a photo is taken & maybe it’s because
a scary new movie about a poor black child
murdered by a crazy voodoo man, & the black female
who is investigating the case is murdered,
plays in town.
I remember sitting in a bathtub
in Chicago at night after returning from viewing
the movie & ordering room service
imagining the murderers’ evil face & voice tell me,
“You may not wake up the next morning.”
I can peel back her anger into a smile
knowing what I know about myself
that she doesn’t know about me.
She doesn’t see the Army boots
holding up my legs, or the big teddy bear
I hug when asking a stranger to take my photo
or see the weight I hide in my pocket.
Before I leave the bathroom,
I promise her I’ll be back with a pizza.
Instead I go to Macy’s maternity department
& I search for a sweater that fits her size
& order a pizza.
When I return nobody is there
so I eat the pizza by myself.
Lisa Rhodes's Other Poems
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