For the Sad Waitress at the Diner in Barstow
beyond the kitchen's swinging door,
beyond the order wheel and the pass-through piled
high with bacon, hash browns, biscuits and gravy,
past the radio, tuned to 101.5-FM
All Country - All the Time,
past the truckers overwhelming the counter,
all grab-ass and longing.
in the middle of morning rush you'll
catch her, in a wilted pink uniform,
coffee pot fused in her grip, staring over
the top of your head
you'll follow her gaze, out the fly-specked, plate
glass windows, past the parking lot,
watch as she eyes those 16-wheelers barreling
down the highway, their mud guards
adorned with chrome silhouettes of naked women
who look nothing like her.
the cruel sun throws her inertia in her face.
this is what regret looks like.
maybe she's searching for that hot day in August
when she first walked away from you.
there's a choking sound
a semi makes, when it pulls off the
highway; that downshift a death rattle
she's never gotten used to.
maybe she's looking for a way back.
maybe she's ready to come home.
(But for now) she's lost herself
between the register and the door, the endless
business from table to kitchen, she's
as much leftover as those sunny side eggs,
yolks hardening on your plate.
First Published in San Pedro River Review, 2017