At the Washington Pike Wendy's, the line serpentines
across a scuffed floor. My turn at the counter,
I see backlit signs/list/value meals —
the assembly-line cook flips squares of meat,
slices of cheese. Strands of the counter-woman's
tied-back hair skim her hollowed cheeks.
I order a single with everything and fries,
skip the condiment-set-up run-over with ketchup.
Last June, at a boardwalk table, Ocean City,
food wrappers and cigarette butts swept the ground
around our sandaled feet
as we had coffee with an Italian au-pair.
She said, It's so bad. They never cook
about her host family. The American food is so bad.
I can't eat.
Doralee Brooks is a Cave Canem fellow, a teacher-consultant with the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, and teaches in the Developmental Studies Department at the Community College of Allegheny County. Her poems have appeared in the Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Voices from the Attic, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dos Passos Review and Callaloo. She lives in Bridgeville.