Lita Hooper

In the line at the bank a little girl stands next to her mother

who stands behind a man in a blue suit

who stands four people in front of a woman in a starch white shirt

who sneezes loud enough to make the man behind her shift

his weight to his right leg. This man has been standing on line too long.

He smells of paint and strange chemicals that remind the woman

of her neighbor’s garage. His hip threatens to give

as he releases a sigh as deliberate as a steam engine’s huff

A deposit slip fits into his too large hands stained with oil.

Today is pay day.

One hour for lunch and a drive through the bank’s drive-thru

has turned into a waiting game inside the dry-aired lobby.

He remembers when his wife did these things, trivial things

like laundry, shopping, picking up the kids.

She stood here once, he thought.

His name is sewn across his heart but does not promise to be true.

On their way to the door the girl and her mother pass him,

the girl reaching for the perfect blue lines

on his hefty denim costume.

Lita Hooper is a poet, playwright, and an associate professor of English. Her work has appeared in several anthologies and journals. She is the co-editor of 44 on 44: Forty-Four African American Writers on the Election of Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States and author of Thunder in Her Voice: The Narrative of Sojourner Truth. She lives in Atlanta.

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