April 16: Chagrin

Young beauty waltzes in the door just past dawn,
bronze skin buffed to shining, framed
by black-brown hair– a yard of silk
down her back.
Slim hands slide a bill across the counter
and she tells me “Keep the change.”
A gum-pink tongue dances behind her teeth,
the pointed pearls so perfect and bright.

My pale pudgy fingers drop her generosity,
a grimy handful of coin,
into a jar and I smile in thanks, acutely aware
of my quarter-turned front tooth
as she turns toward the exit.

I have no makeup on today.
My hair sits high in a tightly wound coil,
unwashed.
I tug at the tank top under my blouse
which has suddenly decided to viciously cling
to the folds and rolls of my soft abdomen.

Sandals snap against her heels as she slips outside
and I cringe– her athletic shorts and well-worn school tee
a much more becoming look on her
than the entirety of my own wardrobe.

The need to apologize-or-explain erupts in my chest
and I bite my tongue to keep from blurting
“I DON’T NORMALLY LOOK LIKE THIS”
to her quickly fading sweet perfume.

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