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Orange Juice
Four carafes of freshly-squeezed orange juice sit on the conference 
            room table.
The meeting is over; the governor, thronged by cops and security agents,
Has left the building—he’s riding through the sky in a helicopter.
Now the caterers are cleaning up, breaking down tables, hauling 
            empty coffee urns
To the waiting vans outside. When I ask a crinkled blue-uniformed woman, 
            broom in hand,
If it’s okay to use the pay phone, she scrunches her mouth
And raises her eyebrows to say, I don’t know. Maybe she doesn’t speak 
Maybe she can’t tell my face from the governor’s face, or from the faces of 
            the other men
In charcoal suits, who leaned confidentially into the corners
Of the conference room—conferring, their decisions weighty as weather.

Behind glass the juice is molten yellow, the most real
Color in this huge building, the sky slate gray through venetian blinds.
Who will drink it? Not the woman sweeping out the hallway, her eyes intent
On the length of carpet ahead; not the catering guys, their thick arms
Strained with the weight of the loads they heave upstairs; not the one cop
Still loitering outside, her bleached-blonde hair slicked back, her belt 
            heavy with pistol, handcuffs, nightstick.

The juice must be warm by now—warm, but still vivid to the tongue, 
            tasting of fermented light. Pressed from the fruit’s inside,
It flares in the mouth’s darkness before entering the bloodstream. Poured 
            down the drain
It will mix with paint thinner, Coke, rainwater, bleach, urine from 
            the men pissing
Against buildings all up and down Mission Street, tears even, from the 
            face of a woman
I saw sobbing into a payphone on my way to work, her cheeks stippled 
            with mascara.

© 2010 Silverfish Review Press

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