For K, Who Will Read This, in Mountainview, California
by Chaya Bhuvaneswar
I wrote a poem once
About some racist white nurses
Fat racist nurses, should’ve said
As if I hated K, charge nurse, short for Coco,
A single gal who’s named for a fat ape,
But wears her mermaid T-shirt under scrubs.
I want to hate, I really do
Perhaps obliterate not her real smile
Instead – the one I imagine
Thin and jaded, ungenerous, full of cruelty.
Too cold for me, woman doctor,
Who feels from her the conclusion
That I must be
Too brown of skin, and strong of will
Anomaly. Anathema (to her).
I try imagining her, this woman K,
Shamed, sweating, hot and
Being sworn at, put in place
By some horrific Ursula and octopus monster
Some cartoon villain, ignoble company, jaded.
But all I really see is K on her front stoop,
K outside while her dog sleeps well,
Drinking her salty Coke and counting up her pounds
As if they’re British coins, and K, Coco,
Aiming for patriotic, proud,
Has to exchange pounds urgently,
Already has sacrificed her daily French fries.
They torment her, these lonely pounds
Children she’s never had, fantasy lovers who jog on right past her
And she, her hair each day absurdly redolent
Sweet-washed, obedient, hopeful
Fingers twirling each curl in the light, red hair aglow,
Romantic song inside her head, under her breath.
While she observes the street each night,
Waiting for new windows to open
And catching wind of lawnmowers, the whirs,
She honestly yearns to discern
Which men will bring her cool water to drink,
And which will make her walk to them on fins.
Chaya Bhuvaneswar was recently awarded 2nd prize in the Cutthroat Journal annual poetry contest, selected from among 1200 submissions by Cornelius Eady. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, Narrative Magazine, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Awl, Litro Magazine, Quiddity, Notre Dame Review, r.k.v.r.y., aaduna, apt, Hobart, Redux, and elsewhere. Her debut short story collection received the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection prize and is forthcoming in Fall 2018. Please follow her on Twitter at @chayab77 including for readings and events such as upcoming at AWP Tampa and Art Lit Lab in Madison.