Tuesday, June 1, 2021

All Hours Are Differently Abled

And it’s tomorrow in New Zealand and
A date not even close to noon yet,
Locally, already has a history, there, even

Here in the desert, where the sun breaks
Over the coffee shop while I wait in line
Between tourists come to see the canyons

And this trio of youngish good old boys,
Probably brothers, slightly burly, already
Paunchy, all outfitted in boots and caps,

Struggling to puzzle out their order options
In slow, ranch-country mutters, “pumpkin
Latte? What’s applewood? Just bacon,”

As I stand nearly stock-still, quiet as cattle
Chewing cud, externally stolid, the soul
Of contemplative patience, internally

Digesting how incredibly slow they are,
These boys, one of whom turns and eyes
Me, up and down, a stray glance snagged

On my short, distorted form and crutches
(And thank god for the crutches, not only
Propping me up through this long line,

But also keeping me safely within some
Kind of medical category, easing this body
Away from possible monstrosity, although

He still takes his time giving me the once
Over), the kind of kid who must have been
Smacked at least once by his mother

When he squawked loudly at the grocery
About a girl who might have had Downs,
Or an old vet with only one arm, that sort

Of encounter, and I’m trying my level best
Not to think of him as stupid as he thinks
Of me as crippled, reminding myself

All these boys probably know their way
Around a horse as well as everyone else
Here knows their way around a menu,

But my arrogant, elitist mind, well-stuffed,
Like a jar of cheap pimento olives with red
Flags of frivolous education, maybe short

On cash as these boys, but more on account
Of years lost jamming my thoughts full for
Certifications so that I could earn the money

That they earn in scuffed boots by their hands,
Given the now-limited opportunities for rural,
Able-bodied young white men without a whiff 

Of a college education, this generation, but
Finally it’s my turn, so I bark out my order
Crisply and hop off with it into history.

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