Main Street: Flushing

The LIRR rumbles above
While the people of Flushing amble below.

In winter, the noodle shop under the bridge
Fills the air with the aromas
Of cooking oil and fried meat—
Sharp clouds from the steam tables
Curl through the windows, twisting with
Cumulus billows from the customers
And the bright Asian faces pushed forward
To take orders.

In the summer, the savory perfume of
      Thin-sliced beef
      Cabbage and carrot and sprout
      Cooked in caramelized soy
      With thick noodles to soak up the rest
Is challenged by the water splashed from
Fish trucks making their rounds.
Ocean brine complicated when
Baked into the pavement by the sun.

For a dollar:
A twirled mound tonged into a
Styrofoam clamshell with practiced ease.
A taste of the new Flushing;
      Nancy Reagan’s birthplace
      Gatsby’s waystation and
      World’s Fair ghost town
Is reborn in
      Marble-floored apartment building lobbies
      Swirling jade
      And characters instead of letters
      On storefront doors.

Kenneth Nichols