A Long Time Ago, at a McDonald’s in West Columbia, SC

The McDonald’s, bright and beautiful,
is a coloring book filled in by
a comic book artist. Yellow doesn’t
stay inside the lines of the Golden
Arches. Yellow doesn’t spill out
into the real world like a water painting.
Yellow obliterates line.
Yellow transcends line.
Yellow brings the world into the painting.

Stand in line
with your mother,
restaurant straining
to be clean.
Booths behind you,
outside the lines,
hard red plastic
as comfortable
as Catholic pews.

An old white couple
sits amidst the furniture,
dressed simply,
no proclivity for color.
His shirt was white. Pants khaki.
Her blouse was white. Her ankle
length dress, bland cardboard.
Faces long as the summer day,
hard as the h — No,
hard as the red booths.

Hold your mother’s hand.
Glance at them.
Look away.
Glance again.

Grip her hand tightly.
Still, benched, their
bored, tired eyes bore
into you — eyes hot
as apple pie filling. Years later
you realize why they stare. 
Your light brown
skin comes from a white
Womb, in a word: blasphemy.

Photo by Jurij Kenda on Unsplash

David Arroyo

David Arroyo is a nerd and ex-catholic. His Dungeons & Dragons alignment is Neutral Good. He holds an MA in English from Florida State University and a MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast. He's published poetry in Club Plum, Stirring, Silver Blade, Burning Word, and Abyss & Apex, and most recently in Coffin Bell and Nocturne.