Flowers 1

By Robin Steere Axworthy

On a dark February night,
we drive down Harbor Boulevard
past dim apartment blocks
and a small car lot where salesmen
in too-new suits idle on the steps
of the double-wide office under the halide lights
watching us whiz by;

past faded strip malls, nail salons, and one-hour massage spas;
past Danielle’s Café, advertising donuts and coffee
in the curling script of some language we do not know;
past the sodium glare of a hamburger stand
whose tall yellow sign advertises egg rolls and $1 burritos;
past squat dark cement-block squares
whose crimson and cobalt signs flash,
advertising XXX and $10 lap dances,
while inside, perhaps, tired girls in tall strapped shoes
and tight skirts wait for customers,

to rise at last up over the Santa Ana River,
a bone-dry, concrete gouge
below us in the dark.

Looking out across the river,
I see the lights of the new skyscrapers
silhouetted against the night sky,
where bright shops hawk
two-thousand dollar handbags,
and Cartier and Rolex watches;
where those to whom
these are reasonable purchases
take their Friday nights flushed
with $100 wine, rare steak, or lobster,
while their daughters parade under the porte-cocheres
with bodies and hair as tightly lacquered as their sports cars,
flaunting their long bronzed legs under short black dresses,
strutting on seven-inch Jimmy Choos
laughing under the gold lights,

trolling for a high roller with a diamond ring
and a house on the beach
far, far from
here.

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