abstract 3
By Charlotte San Juan

They sit facing each other like
tea party dolls palm-clutching
sweaty answers: salary, height,
weight, test scores. Hometown province.

An interview of future wives,
their hair in long, black whiplashes,
their dreams a bundle of glitter roses,
a fat emperor baby.

Future husbands buttoned up, glasses sliding down,
blinking against the fluorescence.
Please deliver a proper response to the question:
How many square meters is your apartment?

Their wilted stares pour into a paper cup of
jasmine tea, nervous about the tablecloths.
Mustard gold and red like a flag
of lipstick smeared on a sequined
qipao dress, too festive for real conversation.

The loudspeakers reverberate a soggy
Norah Jones ballad.
The collective hum of them is
library sounding, flirtless and afraid.
The mass of seated loins, far from being stirred.

Male guests please move two seats to your left.
An assembly line. Rotating statistics in this
fabricated ambience lacking disco laughter and
the shed of inhibitions.

If only everyone were a bit drunk.
Yes, there is something mottling the
air in brown vibrations of resistance.
No hint of budding, darling love
but unadulterated business.

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