In the Rusted Downtown, an Auntie
looks for a spot to park. It is confusing—
the Laws of Space: paying to place a Metal Piece
on a Monopoly Board: The City Grid.

This Auntie meets the Players (3),
and they enter a symposium of spices and notes.
They behave as all Guests do: the Scanning, the Deciding,
the Waiting, the Eating, the Talking—but the Chat varies.

Some whisper of people, others of events
but so few of Wonders.

The Auntie, the Catholic Capitalist (1), and His Accomplice (2)
ask The Poet (3): why a Degree in the Arts? They cannot
understand that it is never about a Piece
of Modern Papyrus nor the Shimmering

Slabs of Boardwalk nor the Game.
But the Community, the Concert, the Professors,
the Passion. What is it like not to reach
for something that cannot be held?

To taste a drop of joy on a summer day,
and not ask about its Creation? How
an art form = a science
traveled years and miles to be scooped

mere inches away. How a change in formula birthed
a new Wonder— the blackberry
ice cream was thicker, stretchy, slightly
chewy; not custard, not yogurt, not gelato,

but Maraş ice cream, a Dondurma, a Turkish delight
made from the tears of Chios and Salep,
a flour from a flower. How curious! How
splendorific—they do not understand the delight

of a word sparking off the tongue. How it skips
from Bitter to Sweet to Salty to Sour
and all over the Buds. Taste—

The Poet savors the flavors as the texture
puzzles her. The others have always found her puzzling,
and sure, The Poet may never afford more

than Baltic or Mediterranean Avenue,
so she imagines the mastic tree and early spring
orchis pirouetting to the push and pull

of Cello strings: poetry. Surely,
the food there is damn good.

Chanlee Luu is a Vietnamese-Chinese American writer from southern Virginia. She received her MFA in creative writing at Hollins University and BS in chemical engineering from the University of Virginia. She writes about identity, pop culture, science, politics, and everything in between. She can be found on Twitter, and her work can be found in Snowflake Magazine, the gamut mag, Cutbow Quarterly, Tint Journal, diaCRITICS, andThe Offing, among others. She is the winner of the 2024 Jean Feldman Poetry Award from the Washington Writers’ Publishing House; her debut collection is forthcoming in October.