Culture and Society
Mr. Kim is abrupt. He is brief. He is short. He is terse. He is direct. He does not beat around the bush. He brooks no nonsense. He is from elsewhere. He does not say from where. He does not like that question. He says, “Elsewhere,” when you ask that question. He may or may not be married.
This is how I met Hugo: I pick up strange men in my car, sometimes two or three at a time. I drive to the parts of town where they offer their bodies: on street corners, outside the paint store and Home Depot and U-Haul. When I slow down, they cluster around like — I was going to say, “like flies around a plate of fruit” or “like bees around a flower,” but the truth is, they swarm my car like men desperate for work. Hugo was so bold he just opened my passenger door and climbed right in.
Ai-jen Poo On The Plight Of Domestic Workers
Domestic workers are in a fascinating position. They are poor or working-class women who live in both their own world and the upper-class world of their employers. They witness the difference between these realities daily. They might accompany their employers on vacation, but they never get a vacation themselves. They see employers taking taxis, but they return home on the bus. They know when one of their employers would rather spend four hundred dollars on a pair of shoes than pay them a living wage, because they watch it happen. It’s a brutal reminder of inequality.
There are four types of brick. I remember two of them: pavior and stock. Our row house was all brick with ledges near the roof, four stories up. Pigeons liked to make nests there, but it was stupid; the ledges were too shallow, and with the first strong gust of wind their nests blew down. Still, year after year, they did it. Optimists, those pigeons.
Every morning Granny came to the Center for coffee. She used her wheelchair like a walker, standing behind it and pushing it through Civic Center Plaza and uphill toward the Center, the dog in the seat, stuffed plastic bags bouncing against the chair’s worn wheels. Seeing me, Granny would stop, shake her head, and let out a long breath as if to say, Isn’t this something?
At the beginning of my senior year in high school, I was sixteen years old, six foot one, and 155 pounds. I had just gotten my braces off, though no one had noticed yet. In the morning at the breakfast table I studied the box scores in the sports section of the San Diego Union. Then I checked the score of the Vietnam War, presented daily as a body count, ours versus theirs.
It’s not timeless, because poets fall in and out of favor, and most poems disappear the moment after they’re written, and anyway the whole planet will be devoured by the sun in a few billion years, and when that happens, no one is going to run around screaming, The poetry! Save the poetry!