by Kevin Minh Allen
My shivering, departed spirit passes a frosted café window where wool suits and silk dresses sit hobnobbing, sipping strong espresso from the tiniest of cups, and possibly talking about the re-polarization of the globe caused by nuclear winter brewing in the mountains to the south or their spectacular silvery find while treasure hunting in the new bazaar next to the national theater.
This genteel society of Turkmen and Silesians, Huns and Swedes, Romans and Romanians, have never forgiven the Outsider for tracking grimy disorder into their uniform parlors of bear-skin rugs and cloudy snifters of brandy. Under guarded camaraderie in neighborhood pubs, visitors are astonished at how well the Locals know their place along the bar where a couple of Ottoman cannonballs are still embedded.
I ball up my mittens and break off icicles hanging from the talons of a double-headed eagle perched on an iron gate. Hunch tighter, head for the warm jet stream flowing from the dark subway entrance and peel my scarf from my thinning lips. Look up to find myself enclosed in a fluorescent diving bell, descending into the mirth and shoulder-to-shoulder bustle that will eventually overflow into a plaza a mile away.
Staring out the subway car window at the streaking gray mass of the capital, I recall a line from a movie I saw with an auburn-headed woman from Slovakia who poured sherry for both of us in her bedroom well into the evening:
“When walking the cobblestoned alleyways of this once imperial city, you may catch a glimpse of a carriage driver floating out of a café with broken reigns in his hand, anxiously calling for his stolen horse.”
Kevin Minh Allen was born Nguyễn Đức Minh on December 5, 1973 near Sài Gòn, Vietnam to a Vietnamese mother and American father who remain unknown to him. He was adopted by a couple from Rochester, NY and grew up in Webster, NY with his two younger sisters. In 2000, he moved to Seattle, WA to pursue a life less ordinary. He enjoys travel and photography when he’s not writing. Kevin has had his poetry published in numerous print and online publications, such as Eye To The Telescope, Meniscus Magazine, AsianAmericanPoetry.com, and Chrysanthemum. He will have his first book of poetry published soon, called My Proud Sacrifice.
September 24, 2014
Photo by: Gessy Alvarez