In Burien (Draft)

I’m driving on a thin highway in Seattle
Wearing an expensive black overcoat
And a Hawaiian shirt that’s blue, with white plumerias
I look into the black and yellow of a strip mall at night

There I imagine a young man pushing a grocery cart, a miniature one
He looks and talks like me, but we’re different people
A kindly but large black man asks him for the sixteen cents
Given on the way into the 24-hour Supermarket

From behind, the voice bounces off the black of his heavy overcoat
Then dies as the young man walks away, armored like a tank
A stout woman his age walks a meandering path toward him
As he slips the key into the trunk’s keyhole

He never once looks her in the eye
“This is… weird. I realize this. Look…”
Pop goes the trunk, and the rustle of thin white plastic
“…two kids and we’re living out of the back of my car…”
The expensive shampoo is inside, as are the ice cream sandwiches
“…just twenty-five dollars from having a room for two weeks…”
The bottles of good wine, for the first time in his life
“…this is the most embarrassed I’ve ever been in my life…”

“Don’t be.” He is authority, in heavy black fabric
He gives the dollar that the black man saw
But she sees the twenty
Triads of regret, apprehension, responsibility

Now we all wear black armor
She shivers
He looks away
I drive

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