About the Feature

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Then, the American flambéing her corpus poolside motions
for a margarita, a basket of chips and dip, a detective novel
or a romance novel or a novel about a detective romancing
a suspect, but the only English the pool girl can offer
of the lobby’s lost and found is a procedural memoir
the detective writes nights staking out a bistro where
the suspect is a sous-chef, but the suspect doesn’t see her
there with her notepad, her telephoto lens, her GladWare
of trail mix, and directional mike. The suspect is eager
for his shift to end so he can meet his Pilates instructor
for a third date on which he’ll convince her after
a beet salad after the Wes Anderson movie after
a stroll by gaslight through the common he’s ready
for love in spite of the garish death of his second wife
who fell from their lofted master suite onto a crystal decanter
and not, as local bloggers have suggested, the other way
around, he mutters, She’ll believe me, she’ll believe me,
to the sine wave of the meat slicer gliding forward
and back until an entire block of prosciutto is shuffled
and stacked, his mantra so consuming he doesn’t register
the executive chef’s irritation at his othermindedness,
his pestering requests to punch out early, his tattoos
and legal entanglements she has no patience for now
she’s cutting ribbon on a second location, soon a third,
someday a chain, a syndicated cooking show, the cover
of Forbes magazine so many paunchy middle managers
will read relieving their feet of their loafers, fingering
their peanuts, sucking on Fiji waters, and one of them
will recognize her across the wide aisle of a Virgin America
airliner and glance then glance again strategizing
his savvy introduction, a quipping banter, a chardonnay
segued into an exchange of private email addresses,
personal cell numbers, maybe a fuck in the can,
which is a chief ambition among men of terrible wealth
and learning, but she can do better, she thinks,
slipping on a sleep mask in her lay-flat seat en route
from a TED Talk in Monterey to a week’s R&R in Cabo.
She’s on the cover of Forbes magazine for chrissakes,
she can certainly do better she says a few days later
to the pool girl who’s sweating a lot by now, her black
braid plaited against the damp back of her uniform oxford,
her uniform khakis clutching her thighs, a sober musk
overpowering her perfume, but the American doesn’t
notice any of this when she offers, Honey, we can all do better,
as if they are girlfriends brunching, as if they’re chitchatting
in an Uber escaped from a lousy mixer, as if hers is a sentence
every body is serving, hers a shared language both of them
dream in nightly on Tempur-Pedic mattresses in adjoining
row houses, and bland ambition is the only difference
between her and her and everybody wants to be like her.

About the Author

Jaswinder Bolina is author of Phantom Camera (2013) and Carrier Wave (2007). His recent poems are collected in the digital chapbook The Tallest Building in America (2014). His essays have appeared at the Poetry Foundation and in anthologies, including The Norton Reader. He teaches at the University of Miami.