You’ve brought us to The Golden Palace Restaurant
in order for you to assess the plausibility of bidding
on a contract to restore the badly faded once elaborate frescoes
on their ceiling, a faint wide blue heavenly spread of various angels
hovering up there in the air above the clatter of dim sum carts
and customers making small and big noisy talk,
much of it in Cantonese and Mandarin.
The owners know your work, have invited you to make them an offer,
but I can’t imagine you on a scaffold up there,
one you say you’ll have to put up and break down
each night so as not to interfere with food service
from eleven to nine daily.
I say they couldn’t pay me enough money
just to do that part of it alone, and then have to spend
my nights on my back working on such fine detail,
going blind making sure these winged women watch,
perfectly painted, over all these customers who never seem to look up
farther than the people’s faces across the tables from them.
I declare it’s a waste of your talent, that almost no one
will appreciate your work except you and me, and you smile that smile,
tell me how much money you believe you will get for this job.
Well, for that amount, if you need a (paid) assistant, I’ll gladly
come at 9:00 every night to put up,
and then return every morning to take down
the scaffolding necessary for my own Ms. Michelangelo
to turn this place into the Sistine Chapel of Chinese eateries.