Happy Hour at Luna Maya

On high stools at the island in the bar, 
     you and your co-workers, discussing 
the indentation on one end of the polished

     wood counter which makes it look
like the spot you might lay your face 
     at the massage parlor or chiropractor's.

On the far wall above the head of the rhetorician
     who is talking about his tyrannical and
attention-starved cat, a mural of what looks to be

     the Santo Niño, child Jesus in pink brocade  
and gilt-edged crown; and all the candles
     flickering at every table, La Virgen 

de Guadalupe presiding over endless guac and
     tortilla chips, no one remarking on the cheap  
sticker and its campy rendition of the image with frilled

     mandorla. Imagine her saying ¿No estoy yo aquí
que soy tu madre? then, just like that, in the middle of
     winter, dropping twelve roses from within

the folds of her cloak. If only a miracle would
     manifest in these dark days. Every morning
you turn on the car radio to hear someone trying  

     to keep from breaking down in tears, on the brink
of losing everything they'd saved and worked for
     over a lifetime from the forced furloughs,

the government shutdown now nearly a month long.
     Nothing for the mortgage, the car payment,
tuition for the child in school, money for medication.

     Two restaurants in your neighborhood are closing 
in the coming week, and you can't figure out why a boy
     in your morning class can never keep his eyes

open from some recurring exhaustion. It doesn't seem
     to matter that there are times you can't remember
the meaning of heuristic, or that you wake with achy

     tingling in your knees. Yes, joy is still important.
How is your husband, his health, asks your colleague
     who has volunteered to help you set up a WebEx meeting.

You think of the number of amber-colored vials on the dining
     room shelf, multiple modalities for the alleviation
of pain; and the science that drove beams of gamma radiation

     at a precise target: the trigeminal nerve at the base
of his brain, pressing too much on a vein. You barely
     have time in the day anymore since he went

on the night shift; proverbial passing ships, 
     bobbing against each other for a while at harbor
before slipping off again into the wale of work. 
     Your other colleague with the beautiful cheekbones
says she also thinks a lot about time these days;
     and faulty memory. How she regrets not keeping

a diary or journal, and now the evenings speed by
     as if we watch them from inside an onrushing
train. And a moment will still, sometimes; and feel

     as if the commingling of all moments, requited and un-.
Instead of lapsing into a bad nostalgia, you ask the ponytailed
     server for a takeout order of tamales with sour cream and when

it comes, you say goodnight; you hold the styrofoam box smelling
    faintly of humid corn to your chest and walk back out into
the evening; cold, clear, already hardening with frost.

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