“Excuse Me” by Marylisa DeDomenicis

Marylisa DeDomenicis


Again, today, the chef says
to the new bus boy: Load this up.
The dishwasher door hangs open.
The chef says: Not by hand.
This is faster. But the bus boy
looks lost, just stands. I tell the cook:
He doesn’t understand just as the boss
walks in, demands: Go! Get the pan
from the dining room, shoves him
toward it. But the young boy can’t grasp
the command without Romero who works
the kitchen translating lunch slips
into sandwiches and English into Spanish
for his friend, whom all the workers call
The Mexican. When his wife calls
they hand him the phone from a distance.
Then? They wash the phone after him.
Head down, he looks at no one.
Go tell the Mexican we need more
silverware. Go. Tell the Mexican: change
the trash. Finally, when every worker
gathers all at one time in the kitchen,
I ask the bus boy’s friend, Romero:
What is his name? I say, Say it out loud.
We write it out on a paper placemat:
es-EEDRO, and hang it on the wall.
Now everyone knows. They say Icidro,
take out the trash. Icidro we need you
to sweep. And Icidro looks up, speaks
his first English phrase as he passes by,
smiles, whispers: ’Scuse me. ’Scuse me.

from Rattle #69, Fall 2020
Tribute to Service Workers


Marylisa DeDomenicis: “I paid for college while raising my son and working as a server in various restaurants and bars, and as a banquet worker in the Atlantic City casinos while attending school. After taking a two-year reprieve to have brain surgery, I returned to school and received a BA in Humanities. I taught at a local ‘marginalized’ school. When it closed six years later, my husband and I opened a restaurant in a small rural town a bit farther away from the cities. As a poet, this has informed my work in ways that have broadened my insights, increased my compassion for others, and most importantly, I feel, made me a better person. I only hope to make the world a better place. I don’t want to shout, but I will if I have to.”

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