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Excerpts from:

Eastlake Cleaners When Quality & Price Count [a romance]


Janet Norman Knox



Bird warbled to bird, overheard,
eavesdropped on the party line, wind whistling
poles crackling Alexander                                     
Graham Bell.
Now twenty pairs
of claws clench
the telephone wire. Beaks preen.
Wings stretch iridescence, await
Joo-Eun, Silver Pearl
to finish her afternoon
She will dust the parking lot with gilded grain. Here
at the door to Eastlake
Cleaners When Quality & Price
Count, she coaxes crumbs to shy English Sparrows.
She whispers Korean vo-
wels like pearls.
They understand as one
wisdom, syllables
      silver and ringing.
first published The Diagram v. 5.5 2005

Follow the Bouncing Ball

Shuang ying zips into Eastlake Cleaners
When Quality & Price Count.
The whites of four furred feet
and her sneakers, catch
my eye like bouncing
balls in a sing-along of This Land
Is Your Land. They rebound
in cheerful arches from word
to word along the refrain.
She could be you and she is
for an instant and then
she isn't. The door swings open
and she reappears, her dog
scurrying to the next sniff
in a dot-to-dot of smell,
until it loops back to number
one. Home. She is a slight
variation of you, wearing black
with white accents, little dog pulling
her faster down a sidewalk,
her muscles tense against a leash,
a line taut between white nose of dog
and heels leaning back, dug
into concrete. Across the land,
women are pulled home
by thoughts of cleaning or cooking
rice, corn, rye, wheat,
grains of peace. We could
      be them and we are.
first published Red Mountain Review