September 2004 / Volume Five / Issue Four
Andrew Yves Aulino
On Speaking English with a Persian at a Restaurant in Bombay

At the register, the waiter's face is expressionless, his arms folded. I don't
know what all these numbers mean. Bottles with herbs and clear liquid line a
shelf behind him, you can buy that stuff. But I look back and see the empty
water glasses, the table set with a white cloth and silverware folded into
blue cotton napkins. The late-afternoon sunlight beats down on it like a
sentimental battle-axe. But I can't have food or water, can't have the
drinking glasses filled. I can't get to the table, or change the waiter's
expression; I can't even change a dollar. Nothing is moving at all, surfaces,
structure, basic physics have all absconded towards civilization. I thought I
knew where I was.