Volume Five, Issue 3


Elaine Nadal

Today, I had a language barrier problem
according to the lady on the phone
who wasn’t getting what she wanted
and only knew my first name.
I explained it was the policy. She asked to speak to the manager.
Manager made an exception and
apologized to her for any misunderstanding.

Earlier, in February, my brother and I were at a bookstore.
Everywhere we went, an employee kept following.
Brother was ready to check out after thirty minutes of browsing.
He wanted the teacher discount but forgot his ID.
The cashier asked a bunch of questions like
“How are you using these books in your class?”
and “Are you sure you’re going to be using all these?”
“Yes, I teach literature,” my brother replied.
Cashier said, “This time, I’ll take your word for it.”

Just last year, my mother’s bathroom got flooded.
Water from the pipes came up through the tub and toilet.
The condo association manager refused to replace the carpet.
He said, “We’ll do some cleaning. Our policy doesn’t account for that,
and we can’t go around spending money so that you can have free new stuff.”
Mom said, “But it’s the second time, coño,
and I pay association fees.”
They went back and forth. He called her threatening and hung up the phone.
After several months, Mom got a new carpet.
It wasn’t as pretty nor as good in quality.
The condo association guy got a promotion.

So, take my words, a mountain ridge, a canopy of dreams, an eagle’s eye
for I am telling that

today, I had a problem,
the kind that breaks a heart.
I said today I had a problem,
the kind that breaks a heart.
I could’ve told the lady on the phone
I go to college, and I’m smart,

but I didn’t. I was somewhat afraid. Maybe I thought I had nothing to prove.
Maybe I felt I had nothing to gain. Got no apology. No explanation.
No conversation. No time set aside to release some emotions. So, I am angry.
I am disappointed. I am saddened that today I had a problem, and tomorrow may be the same.

Elaine NadalElaine Nadal: “A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net-nominee, I am the author of two poetry chapbooks: When and Sweat, Dance, Sing, Cut, published by Finishing Line Press. My work has appeared in several journals, including Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Haunted Waters Press, Hoot Review, Grasslimb, and Latino Book Review Magazine.

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