POETRY: Cindy Tran

Ode to Mr. Kim

for La Mode 1st Cleaner

God answers my prayers everywhere
except for what to write in Yelp reviews.

This morning it rained and reminded me
of Mr. Kim in his Dodgers cap, listening

to the actual radio, prayer in his closed eyes.
I imagine he’s seen stains of all kinds—

pizza oil, gutter water, pigeon poop, blood, pride—
and knew of losses in this dry cleaning store.

Mr. Kim says things no other dry cleaner says,
like “Are you two married yet?” to my boyfriend

each week for over a year, when we lived
across the street, before we moved away

and broke up. Sometimes cleaning will unravel
a seam. Sometimes bringing dirty clothes

to someone else is the only way to clean them.
Clean and Dirty live in the same places

and travel distances together. Isn’t it funny
how they seem so much the same sometimes?

The sun is coming out and I think, it is baseball
season for Mr. Kim. If the game isn’t on, it’s time

for classical music. And when the radio is off,
it’s time to talk of his golf game last weekend.

Maybe that is why Mr. Kim is always smiling.