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By B.A. Varghese
I slouch to the blue faux-marble front
counters. Snow melts off my old black boots
and puddles into small lakes on brown and white
tiles. Steam rushes from the kitchen plunging
over neon signs against the chalkboard window,
beyond which the world is dark and cold. Grease
hangs thick in the air. A thin film now rests
on my skin. The yellow light with faint flickers falls
dim on the soy sauce stained menu. I give
my order to a happy man with crooked teeth,
who screams to the back kitchen with foreign words
and inflections. I droop into a chair
by a lonely blue table in the cramped square
of the dive. The fire under the wok heats
an aroma of spices and sauce, weaved and solid,
into a coat I will wear when I leave. Backlit pictures
of various dishes hover on the wall, with halo glow,
like glorified versions of meals that will never be served.
Buddha laughs at me from the counter.
Happy Man brings me my hot order. Steam covers
my cold face with caressing warm hands. I slurp
Beef Lo Mein from plate to sticks to mouth and cram
fried Wontons in, chomping, chewing. I grin
when I hear the crunch.