checking each avocado individually in search of the freshest few
while his preteen son harasses the lady in the headscarf.
I can’t imagine the father doesn’t hear the vile sounds,
the filthy succession in which they slither from his son’s tongue,
a tongue I would drench in the store’s stock of soap and shampoo
if my own son spoke even a tenth of the things that poison my ears.
His father’s silence is license to grab the lady’s headscarf,
tug on it like a monkey swinging from a branch.
This is the jungle, after all.
I don’t know what turns children evil,
what prompts them to bigotry.
I assure you, it is not natural instinct.
I make my assumptions about the father
who at this point has determined none of the avocados are good enough.
judging their inside by what he can see from the outside,
like father like son.
The two walk away as if nothing has happened.
The lady fixes her headscarf then turns to leave.
Our eyes meet.
At this moment, I think about the three–
the father, the son–
and myself, the bystander,
and I’m not entirely sure I wasn’t the worst of us.
(cheers and applause)
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