down the middle. I’m one-half something.
One part stained glass window. One part
three-hour infomercial. A crucifix hangs
in my chest like a heart. Chamber music.
One part mestizo. One part mezzanine.
I know where the checkout lane is.
Your mother spends and spends and spends.
My father says this to me.
He doesn’t understand how much I save him,
she replies on her cell phone.
Which floor is Kitchen Utensils? Which floor
is Lawn Care? Take a credit card and the escalator down.
Do you still go to church on Sundays?
my grandmother asks.
I say the word assimilation like a blade
of grass bending. Always bending. A hundred rows
of flickering TVs for newscasters to pronounce
immigration like a virus.
Here. In the theater of household
appliances, people see my brother and I and ask
which one is not like the others? Which floor
is Electronics? Which floor is Hardware?
Where’s a nail gun when you need one?
We’re standing between departments.
We were born in different strip malls,
both in America.
Yes. I know most of the Lord’s Prayer, how to hook
up a DVD player, how to disappear.
Copyright © 2013 Matthew Olzmann
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.