The Expatriate at Home

       Today, I order Spain from the menu.
       I dine on the country with a special wine
       my wife picked from a small vineyard
       near her girlhood home in Cádiz.
       I feast on each region, and when the bill
       comes I stand and bow. The waiter shakes
       his head. I am the loud foreigner who can’t stop.

       Spain’s history is in front of me like ham
       sweating on its hook behind
       the bartender. It’s waiting there
       for me to pluck it, shout its name, jamón.
       I want to tether myself to this country,
       reel it in like a fish, wrap it like a present
       in silk with wide, ornate bows.
       I want to know Spain like a lover
       I can hold at the end of the work day,
       and know that we’re humming
       like a smooth, working motor.

       I’m a man losing myself to the daily sites
       of bulking mountains and gurgling, vibrant
       rivers moving into the cities like high-speed
       trains. I’m the one snapping photographs
       like a desperate man who tries to scoop
       up all the gold coins in a pirate movie.


The Grasshopper Woman, Endlessly

       The woman at work with the grasshopper eyes
       keeps me distracted all day
       with the bug-like features
       of her face. She never glances my way,
       never comes close enough; her small talk
       is unknown to me. Her laugh, which forces
       her head to the side, a tilted painting, aims

       itself to those who sit on that end of the office.

       I picture the two of us in a meadow
       of waist high grass, smelling lilac from each
       direction. We sigh and learn
       about each other through silence and looks
       so concentrated that rain begins pecking
       our hair and skin. All we can think
       to do is smile, push the rain away, the way
       a person does with hair draping over the face.

       Back at work we resemble a society of insects—
       people with the eyes of bees, the work ethic of ants,
       tendency to chatter like crickets—but there’s only
       one grasshopper and she does her ethereal mating dance
       for eight hours, from her desk to the copy machine,
       feet slightly crossing each other, hips propelling
       forward, a series of thrusts that begs
       the question of how anyone could catch her.



America’s Favorite Topic is the Self

       Can I tell you about the day
       they didn’t pick me up from Little League
       and I scaled a fence like a rock face,
       straddled the top, lost balance, and faster
       than a baseball flying over
       my head in right field, fell?

       One weekend at my grandma’s, I wandered
       into the forest behind her house. I was walking
       further away from family. I was lost
       and too frightened to stop. The sparrows

       followed my misdirection. My dad phoned
       the sheriff and everyone was soon driving
       the state roads calling my name.
       My name on the minds of half the county.
       
       Let me hold the first-person like a pillow
       cradled in my arms. I can rock it
       like a newborn making its first sounds, waves
       that drive outward for others to hear.


Aaron Rudolph is the author of Sacred Things (Bridge Burner’s, 2002). His poems are featured in the anthologies Two Southwests (Visual Arts Collective, 2008) and Ain’t Nobody That Can Sing Like Me: New Oklahoma Writing (Mongel Empire Press, 2010). Rudolph won the 2008 AWP Intro Journal Award for poetry and is the founding editor of Cuento Magazine, a journal for micro writing.
BACK
NEXT