I turn the corner quickly,

lifting his chubby legs and elevated behind

into the air, away from my body.

 

Smells of bleach and swirling water

combine with whiffs of the barely contained

mess creeping up my son’s back.

 

Unoccupied stalls wait single file as

I scan the empty back wall, still in a hurry.

There is no changing table.

 

A maintenance worker sits in the tiny supply closet,

an overheated halmoni surrounded by used mops

and buckets, fanning her dripping face with a cheap accordion fan.

 

In her eyes I see the kind and

familiar gaze of my own grandmother,

diffusing stressful situations with her steady calm.

 

Key-jug-ee I mumble, pointing

to my son’s backside. The Korean word for diaper

fumbles out with sliding intonation

as my face, flush with panic, begins to retreat.

 

She pats the top of her leg twice with

one hand while continuing to fan her face.

Suddenly I am handing my baby boy

to a stranger in the bathroom closet.

 

She welcomes us into her space with

eye contact and satisfied laughter.

She makes room for the unexpected

and instantly the closet becomes a holy place.

 

I change my son’s diaper on her lap of royalty

and as she compliments my baby’s thighs,

I hear the words of Jesus ping off the tiled walls,

absorbing into the extra toilet paper:

 

let the little children come to me.