The best part of the day is the night.

I go searching for tacos, unhappy

as I walk. The streets are empty

except for people piling firewood

for the holiday. I am the ghost that passes.

The road ends. I backtrack

through some trees

to the stone pathway. Ahead,

a highway materializes.

I turn the corner. A car dealership, a man

behind glass adding numbers

in a store full of fans. Then, a naked bulb

suspended above dirt,

smoke, plastic chairs. Hotdogs?


Radishes float like little wounded hearts.

I am a compass needle swinging

yes to everything.

It is important to hold

their greasy, hot circles properly.

Three, or better, two fingers. Approach

from the side. All of the sauces.

No one talks to me, but I manage not

to spill. The trucks waft past. The daughter

smiles at her father. I belong

somewhere, but then it is finished and

I am an unmatched sock again,

old love silent at the other end of the country.

The girl with braces, the staring father, the brother

wicks my plate of its plastic bag.

I am the doubtful guest.

So I get up and the plastic bag

rises into the air and follows me

like a silly translucent mule. It is the pale

little mule of quietness and of

the strangled look a man gives

to the air when presented

with the affection of a woman, a mule

with a wooden saddle, a mule loaded

to the traces with sorrow but

never, ever, no

never with regret.

—Maleea Acker—

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