Excerpt from

Downtown Diner

. . . Long-term poverty humiliates

like childhood: you might be judged wanting,
be laughed at any moment for something

not in your power to avoid. Only,
you can't outwait it like childhood. Maybe

that woman dipping toast into egg yolk had
less passion or ambition than I had;

maybe more. She should not have been
disturbed in that small consolation

of egg. Who possesses the wherewithal
for labor or love without small

consolations? Who can live?

"Downtown Diner" first appeared in The Southern Review