Poetry - Tables



Senior year, sixteen, balancing trays of steak and beer to take to fat, drunk men. Rancid women hissed steam, blamed me for their children’s boredom and fickle tastes.

Strangers clamored to be fed and cleaned. They complained, howled, smacked my rear end, called me sweetie. They left me five-dollar bills, often sliding them into my hip pocket with sly self-congratulation.

Closing shifts were a blur of broom handles and kitchen clatter. The stench of day’s-end fish swaddled my swollen ankles. Grease seeped into my skin, turned me gray.
At home, ten o’clock, I did homework under desklight, studied trigonometry circles in my name tag and stained shirt. I drew lines, planted dots on graphs, plotted my days into an arc, eased and pointed toward an unnamed freedom, charting a better path, a way out.

Christine DeSimone Blue Collar Review, Spring 2004