I slid my badgeAnd said to the guard, "Que descanses," "I hope you get some rest," It sounds almost natural in my adopted tongue But I hold the s too long and Don't attack the vowels like I should. Sometimes I get it right But rarely at 6:16 pm.
I look both ways when I cross the street Like I was raised, though most here go one Or the other. I see enough tabloids with wreckage and Limbs and Exclamations points going both ways To know it couldn't hurt.
I walk past a dry cleaners Where the woman remembered my name And my tie After three weeks. When I finally slinked in to pay She said my name like it was our daily ritual, With not enough diphthong and too much o Like everyone else here says it. Maybe I've mispronounced my name all this time. It was my favorite tie and who would've done that in Dallas?
A puesto sells nuts and gomitas In huge plastic bags under an orange tarp; All I want is a Snickers. But I keep my finger on The last little earthworm of self-control And instead go into a little church To pray and wonder why I'm here.
I'm alone. I put my feet on the bench Where you're supposed to kneel. I was always told that what counted was That inside your heart was kneeling, Yet the faithful file in at a quarter to seven And kneel at their knees, where my feet are, After they cross themselves And kiss Christ's sacred heart. The priest starts the Mass and I leave.
I go to a different sanctuary With the same phrase being sung over and over And people in a trance Of self-improvement and distraction Into which you may not interpose yourself Unless your eyes meet And then you smile And speak too loud because You're surprised that these shadows And blockades act of their own volition. I'm talking about the gym. But it also could be said of the place where I learned It was alright to metaphorically kneel.
I tell myself, "Five more, Five more, Five more." I don't push beyond three false endings to my set Because really, Who wants to be lied to four times? I'm done for the day. I made my spreadsheets And even conversation. My three work friends laughed with me And isn't that enough to ask of Wednesday? That and being alone in the sanctuary, The one with icons wearing white robes, not Boxing gloves.
I split the worm in two; It's time for Snickers. The peanuts have protein, I think. I wonder to the blue tarps On Calle Salamanca And instead decide on tacos. I've earned it, I repped fifteen over my last set.
Of course I'll order them al pastor, The pork and onion roasting on a spit. Almost all gone, So I know it's good. I put in my order And then see The most fantastic flour tortillas Sandwiching cilantro and salsa and Pork and onions from the spit And I change my mind.
The concinero laughs, White teeth and a shiny forehead. "I love quesadillas," I say, nervous as always. "Here, we call them gringas", he replies, And the grill hisses and I feel the Rising heart of being welcomed. "Gringas para el gringo," I joke, And my fellow puesto patrons laugh with me. This Wednesday became suddenly worth it And the pineapple and cilantro taste like Providence.
The private reveries and guilt and prayers I've prayed for years And reps and broken vowels Melt into my unexpected dinner, And I suspect that I have found a new sanctuary to hold me here When the city's hand pushes me away Or swallows me up. Around cracks in the pavement From countless tremors and tar-pourings I jaywalk home and decide That after all I just may hold my ground.