Hanh glanced up at the long room, the rows of sewing machines.
The black hair of the women hidden by the uniform blue scarves they were required to wear.
The clatter of the needles, the staccato whir of the motors.
Old Tham paced the rows of bowed heads, one eye on the women and the other on the clock.
Beside each worker stood the stack of their completed work.
This week it was Bermuda shorts in festive colors.
Next week it might be khaki trousers or faded denim.
Hanh had never seen anyone wearing any of the clothes she made.
I guess I wasn’t thinking. I never meant for it to go so far. I was just shook by the insult, I guess. If I’d cooled down some, I probably wouldn’t have done it, and that little girl wouldn’t be paralyzed.
It wasn’t like it would never have happened sooner or later. Butler was always lax on wheel safety. A good many of them bolts was stripped so’s you could turn ’em with your hands anyway. I just loosened up some of the others.
The truth is if they hadn’t fired me none of this would have had to happen.
Oh Mama I know you don’t like it
when I bring up my funeral.
You always want to change the subject,
what with your practical mind
but I say a man gets buried once, and once is enough
so I will lay it out:
I want a second line, sure
but in both directions, with no sad marching coffin-carry
joy all the way, for you know I am free
and everyone at the after-party should bring a dish
some favorite taste to linger in their mouth
remind them of me their whole life through