America as a Room

More a sprawling mansion
you’re led through
at dizzying speed.
You notice there are staircases
boarded up, darkened corridors
you are whisked past
in favor of the bright,
gaudy parlors that are the showpiece
of the place, expertly decorated
and dusted to perfection –
the guide ignores your questions
about the basement, the attic,
the servants’ quarters, the garden
of poison plants –
instead he holds out another
piece of fine china
not meant to be eaten off,
invites you to admire
the exquisite workmanship.

-Cassandra de Alba