To the Man Who Parked His Jacked-Up F-150 with Steel Nuts Hanging from the Fender in the Disabled Spot
I understand what it’s like to be short
in this world. To be overlooked trying
to order coffee and croissants at bakery
counters because your head doesn’t top
the glass. To be sucked into the cushions
of an armchair like a lozenge on the tongue,
feet dangling inches above the flat glare
of tile. I frolic daily on the playground
of the inaccessible. In the supermarket
freezer section, I open the doors and step
in to reach the spinach on the top shelf,
fingerprinting the frost on the bars. No
one ever stops me, says, This is unhygienic,
ma’am. Even if they did, I’d continue.
And that’s not always because I understand
what it’s like to be short in this world
built for the unbreakable and big, but
because nobody offers to grab that bag
of spinach for me. Sometimes I use
a box of spaghetti to poke the waffles
so that they’ll fall into my hands as if
they’re coming out of a vending machine.
The last man who saw me do this smirked
and waited by his cart for me to do something
else he could applaud with his scorn.
He was over six feet tall. He could reach
the tater tots if he wanted to. My family
hasn’t had tater tots in a long time.
I’m telling you that I understand how
it is not just to be short in this world
but to be undersized, frail as a wood
floor that’s been sanded so many times
your heel goes through in certain places.
We call those floors “original” and pretend
they are valuable but we all know
the hidden liabilities of leaving them
underfoot. I understand how it is to own
a body you must treat like an assembly-line
toy to keep from shattering. I do. Have you
seen me? That’s a joke. I watch you through
the window of the salon, where my hands
that are the size of an iPhone, that can’t wrap
themselves around a jar lid, are getting
a treatment to keep the polish on my nails
for weeks. It makes my fingers look larger
than the breakfast sausages that they are.
You have to hop down feet from the cab.
Jump, really. I wonder if you have “steps”
like the ones we snug next to the couch
for the elderly Shih-Tzu in order for him
to climb back on. I am surprised you don’t
have an intact Rottweiler, chained in the cab,
taking up all the room that he can.
You would call him a service dog.
When I leave, your truck still looms
in the spot at an angle so obtuse
it’s beyond triangular. No sticker gives
you permission. The only symbols are those
twin chunks of metallic manhood drooping
from the jacked-up bumper and an American
flag jutting up from the bed, so large it waves
its simple primary colors in the wind
of your rear view, blocking everything
about this world you’re too small to see.