Jane Pek

At MacDonalds on a Monday

This is what it is to grow old, then:

To sit, wheelchair-bound, a straw
hat hung from your neck with string
so you will not lose it, dressed in
red and yellow floral print.
Green veins twisting from your face
and arms; faded skin folded into
contours with the nudge of bone
rising at knee, wrist, elbow, knuckle.

To be fed salty fries and Chicken
McCrispy greased in oil and fat,
shredded anchors of taste offered
by the sandpapered pinchers of
the two Filipino maids flanking you
(whose names you still can't remember).
They eat your leftovers in silence,
hunched in shiny shame and contrition.

You are here only because you can
no longer stand to splutter oil into
a pan and cook; because anyplace else
is too expensive for the dirty canary
purse with its slippery clasp; because
you have nowhere else to go.
It is not the milk of pity that rises,
watching you, but the last pulls of dignity.


The 2River View, 4.2 (Winter 2000)