January 2004 / Volume Five / Issue One
Liz Lynn Miller
Rock Falls Diner, One Table Over

Of these four faint-with-hunger guests,
itís the gent in the slumpy charcoal suit
you notice most, the collar
of his white and blue plaid shirt
poking at his ears; no teeth at all
behind the tongue thatís pumping gamely
like a toddlerís with each effort
of speaking or sipping or simply
moving a spoon, left hand lame on his knee.
The other fellow could be anybody
till he speaks with depth and resonance
to our waitress, ďAinít you kilt the hen yet?Ē
and on second glance heís possibly
the keeper brother of the first,
same shape of skull, fringe of hair,
same nose.  And backs only to be seen,
these ladies must be sisters,
bony shoulders slanting equally;
matching bantam widowís humps;
slender, cross-hatched napes and wrinkled ears;
but most of all, salon-built hair,
pinkish-orange, washed and set, tall and stiff
to last all week; muffin-headed sisters
wed to brothers, all talking of the folks
who used to farm the bottomland; four retirees
bedeviling our scrambling waitress
for not serving them their chicken dinners now,
who leave loose change for a tip for her.
And this is Labor Day.
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