Repulsed

The old Chinese woman
refused to ride the elevator
with me this morning.
Again.

Is it my clothing? My face?
The way I give a cheery
hello? Have I not shown
the proper respect?

Her face is so lined
I may have mistaken her.
But Korean or Thai,
Filippino or Malay, the
arrangement of her wrinkles
makes her seem eternally
unhappy. Maybe she laughs
with her granddaughters
and smiles at the sight
of bluebirds.

What cultural barrier
can we not pass?
I do not wish her ill but,
upset at first,
I am now becoming
secretly pleased:
my mere presence
is so offensive, so
repulsive, she cannot
even share
the same musty air
from the 13th floor
to the lobby.

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