Volume 26, Number 1


He takes their money
and builds stairs, rooms, decks,
under, behind, beside
their air-conditioned houses.

He remembers desert heat
unrelieved by electricity,
poverty that swallowed
his childhood.

But he made it out,
got an engineering degree,
though few see beyond
his thick accent.

Least of all the woman
who steps outside
and says, "Clean the kennels
while you're back there."

"No." He lays his refusal
down with quiet precision,
one more brick
in the house of his soul.

—Mary Soon Lee