That woman over at the counter—
the sacrificial one wearing nothing but rose vines in bloom—
allows us to think her the fool.
She grants us the casual racism learned as children.
Her hair changes as we watch from a silky straw color
to Irish red, to chestnut, to kinky sable.
The three olive jars at her elbow
have nothing to do with her performance.
The viewer must pay attention to understand
the liquid poured over her bruised skin is whipping cream.
As she takes a cruciform pose,
a tremendous weight lifts from everyone in the room.
and shifts to retail catalogue stacks,
inscrutable in their daily capitalistic advertising normalcy,
as they settle upon her shoulders and crush her.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

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