I touch my lips with grease
that turns brown paper translucent.
I touch my lips with honey crust.
Flakes of bread, burnt crisps of coconut
shavings, stale almond paste. A tunnel of floured
steps, twenty-three straight up. A bulb on a cord.
The ticking clock. His bald head.
Doesn’t anyone knock anymore? Mind the door.
Stacks of dirty bills, rubberbands
between his thick fingers.
Hard work’s all that matters, boy.
These hands have made sacrifices.
Come feel how sore they are, how calloused
and raw they are. Someday these will be
your hands. Someday you’ll know the truth, boy.