Man in Clown Outfit
He's waving a plastic pointer, stiff flag enter lot here, parking at the edge of Lincoln--bright-yellow clown suit with bold ruffles and floppy shoes (the kind with stuffed toes) and from even a short distance he could be anyone degraded selling what?, he could be, but he is a man, clearly Mexican, underneath the nose that honks, a black mustache, illegal alien? probably. Like the girls in bikini tops and grass skirts outside casinos in Las Vegas, who say Come get your free lei (colored plastic wrap á la Hawaii), he does what he's been told to do: on automatic, flag arm ticking like a metronome. Underneath the painted smile is another expression--harder to place. The urgency of traffic, who has time to care? He takes his job seriously. On the way home, reverse route back, he's still there waving, a swimmer treading water.
From Buddha Box by Gretchen Mattox. Copyright © 2004 by Gretchen Mattox. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Poetry & Prose. All rights reserved.