we got the job, now we are Jets*
we sing that song from West Side Story
and go out for sushi by way of research
the friend who arrived on my doorstep
from russia, with her fiance
has stayed, married, run out of patience
with immigration hoops, and needs a job
her logic has herded me into this
the process included a panel interview
of which i remember only teeth and eyebrows
we go by charter bus to the consul’s house
i watch leafy west end streets unroll
think about my road til now; i’m twenty seven
were i one sort of stereotype, i could have
a teenaged child
another sort, scarred arms and that shiny
over-watered skin, a whole face blister
cheating my reddened eyes of view
yet again, i could have been
a doctor, a lawyer, not a chief.
but i am none of these
i am free, also untethered
resigning from the clinic was easy
i’d learned i’d never be a rockstar therapist
which is to say, would never want to market
like the rockstar therapists expanding into
snake oil territory.
i say i will never forsake the knowledge
nor the commitment to healing, which must
include me, single again
and so, i have turned east
i am a Jet, about to take flight.
at the consul’s house, we the new recruits
the chosen, queue for refreshments
on the lawn. i am unfurling like a leaf into the feel
of this miniature garden, and the prospect, when
the teeth reappear, exclaiming in my ear
oh how glad she is that i got the job.
good for everyone, but especially
that they got to hire a Native, she is proud
because i am so much more… she draws breath
while finding the right word… Canadian.
what i am is stuck. my heels have taken root
in the newly watered lawn. there is no escape
from her proclamations. no way to explain
graciously on the lawn, that her patent surprise
and my novelty do not inspire joy. i know better
than to rudely reply, ‘wait til i get my heels unstuck
and i’ll jump for joy, maybe do you an indian dance.’
to crumple her gleaming smile would not serve.
she does not know, and i cannot teach her here.
i’ve had a couple decades practice in consciously
choosing to quietly gloss, seek inner stillness
deflect conversation; this could not be solved
on the consul’s lawn. in time she moves away.
the consul makes a point of bearing through the crowd
a cloak of graceful stillness. when he brings that to me
i unfurl again, and we sip tea under gathering dusk
murmuring about curiosities.
when i get to Japan, i’ll be one of the few
not reeling from culture shock.