Fingertips

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Many years ago, I had a Before Sunrise moment. Unlike the movie, there was no sequel, and it crushed me. I moved far away from family and friends and dove headfirst into work. Sixty-eighty hour work weeks for several years punctuated by weekly travel to a couple states meant I spent a lot of time alone in restaurants. It also meant I had a journal that looked like a collection of poems that might pass for B-Side lyrics from The Cure.

Out of all those evenings spent repairing my heart in silence as I ate grilled chicken and baked potato (yes, I pretty much got the same thing every time), there was one waitress that sat down across from me to take my order. It was very odd and certainly got my attention. We chatted every other week for a couple months when she had her shifts. I never knew her motivations, but I knew I was not in a place for anyone. The experience helped me both pull my head out of my extended pity party and realize that not everyone was a putz.

I didn’t write what follows particularly for her, it was an exercise in getting outside myself and into another’s life. Watching the waiters, waitresses, hostesses, and busboys do their jobs night after night, week after week. This one was for all of them.

PS – The title came from observing the ways that servers would leave a table after they took an order. So many would brush their fingertips across the edge right before they left.


lifted conversations
broken
by
laughter,
headaches,
and tired aromas

forged smiles
leave
nothing
tips,
temperature      –      controlled
whispers.

memories of morning skies
invade ring-ups.

breezes of passing skin
echo
the coming moon—
drive by night.