It doesn’t look like an automat,
just a building that reeks of steel
and machinery and aching backs,
with a corner in which a woman sits
at a table, invisible to everyone,
scowling into her cup of tea.
She had given up on pounding on doors
long ago, knowing that nobody would let
her in; she depended on her green jacket
for comfort, occasionally peeking down,
past the yellow banister, to the dark room
from which she heard laughter.
They did the best they could, said one
brown lock of hair that curved around her
shoulder, tickling her neck—but the other
said in her ear, Go downstairs, and
throw your fruit at the ungrateful
people in the basement.
The bowl of fruit appeared, but she kept
still and made no comment—she heard nothing,
only the sound of the rain outside,
and the teacup against the blue table,
and the moths banging against the flickering
The laughing people came upstairs
and stopped in front of her table.
Still chuckling, they said,
Give us a smile! Give us a smile!