Tired, so tired,
held up by fraying strings,
she’d drag us through throngs
at sales. We’d shrivel,
she’d fume. “Service!
I need service!”
Clerks could never
At restaurants, overlooked
single mom with three kids, no father
to focus on, until she built beacons,
menus stacked vertically
two or three high. After the meal,
dimes, nickels, pennies piled
atop the bill without tip.
When our old Corolla lurched, puttering
up inclines, we ducked out of sight,
flinched with each honk
from the cars zooming past.
At home, tirades. Smash and clang
in the kitchen escalating up the Richter scale
until one of us crept out to pay
penance. Better to be
Fiona Tinwei Lam’s third book of poetry, Odes & Laments, is forthcoming this fall. Her work appears in several anthologies including The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry. She has also authored a children’s book and co-edited two nonfiction anthologies. Her poetry videos have been screened at festivals internationally. Visit fionalam.net