At the Optical Shop

The man in the monogrammed lab coat
starched and white with his head shaved,
looking all medical and a little like
a shady purveyor of ice cream,
is advising an older man and his wife
of the benefits, the manufacturer’s claims
for each potential selection
on a looming mirrored wall of frames.

These, he is saying, offer a classic look.
Think Philip Larkin, think Jean-Paul Sartre.
Think British don in his Oxford rooms
puffing a Dunhill and lecturing
on the essential ornithology of the Amazon.

And these, he points out, are titanium.
Think spaceships, think robots, think
Arnold Schwarzenegger, indestructible
cyborg rising from the Sturm und Drang.
Think Q walking Bond through his secret lab,
pointing to an ordinary pair of glasses.

Now these, he says next with extra breath,
are designer, presenting them as a queen
presents a medal. Think Halston, think Gucci,
think Yves St. Laurent. Think about you
resplendent on your immaculate yacht,
the cliffs of Monaco to starboard,
young love immediately to port.

The old folks seem uneasy.
He is pulling at the patch on his injured eye.
She is fidgeting with a loose thread
hanging from the handle of an old fabric bag.
What they want to know is:
how much?
Think Medicare. Think furnace repair.
Think a single fast-food burger, split, for lunch.


Kevin Burris lives in southern Illinois. His work has appeared in many literary journals, including Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Southern Poetry Review, and The Bitter Oleander. His first poetry collection, “The Happiest Day of My Life,” was published in 2016 by FutureCycle Press.