I Must Try Going Forward
He was a slight man, very organized
and new to the school.
He had never waited a table
before. It was time for dinner, the long tables
replete with full place settings, but
we had been told not to touch them
when we sat down to eat. In the back,
where we were to get our things,
there had been no spoons left, no
forks, and what can you eat
with just a knife? He was distraught,
only twenty minutes left to eat, staring at
a plate full of steak, contemplating
whether he were the type of man
that could just use his hands.
He was not.
He looked at me, pleadingly,
as if perhaps I knew some secret
cache of be-tined silver, but I confirmed —
there was nothing,
and no one here would help him,
as they were too busy eating. I myself
was always too late, and had found my own ways
around the problem.
I reached to my left, plucked up
the nearest spoon and held it out.
you pay tuition and room and board
just like anyone else at this place.
Relax, enjoy your meal.
He gasped a little, weighed the words quickly
as he took the spoon with a chuckle,
and then he clinked out in his strangely thick
but still native English, spoken as if he were
running his thoughts through
spellcheck or autocorrect —
I like this style. I must try, he said,
to be as sovereign as you.
This is not a word
I would have applied to myself, even
in translation, but I suppose
there is a me that plays out
constantly broadcasting from my skin, and I am
hardly aware of her. She is
nothing like the me that writes these poems, and
she is nothing like the me that sits
quietly alone in her room, flicking at pages in a book she doesn’t want to read,
nursing her aching back. I don’t
really know or understand her, but I
have gathered, from people’s reactions,
that she looks out at the world
something like a resting snake will glare
at hikers coming too close,
deliberate, calm, and always ready to strike.
And while like most others, the slight
organized man no longer wants to chat
or make small talk about the weather,
I am grateful for this visage
and her sovereign manner
in this place, like so many places,
where servers are asked to dine
without silverware while
staring at utensils they aren’t allowed to touch.
One thought on "I Must Try Going Forward"
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Your narrative is intriguing.