As I Walk Through a Busy Restaurant
The three glasses of water I drank with
our appetizer have done their duty,
and I make my way across the
hard tiles toward the restrooms.
About four seconds of conversation
from each booth enters my ears as I pass.
The hysterectomy of the woman in pink
is not what I will want in my mind when
I return to my table and cut in to my steak,
but I get all the details anyway.
Luckily, the old man in plaid won
the bowling pot this evening,
and his friend finally found a buyer
for his rusty old Studebaker from high school.
The young couple shouts about food stamps,
and the old couple talks about nothing.
The denim-clad men inform me that
the wheat in the fields is beginning to joint,
and the sobbing teens behind them were both
dumped by their boyfriends today.
How will they ever survive?
Like a storm-torn billboard revealing its layers,
the diners thread together a string of remarks
that is at the same time endless and incoherent.
Spanish splashes into the pool of comments
as I pass by the smoky kitchen
and gladly enter the sanctuary of the men’s room.
The safety of the empty tile cube
and the soft flit of Miles Davis’ trumpet
refresh my dripping, overwhelmed mind.
I’m not sure if I can make it back to my table
through the deluge that I know awaits me.
I wash my hands slowly and turn to face the door,
and once again begin to swim through the flood of details –
about the green-eyed lady’s nasty divorce,
the young man’s term paper,
and the blue-haired woman’s prescriptions,
which have caused her insomnia and oily discharge.
I continue to brave the wave of multiplicity,
driving against the torrent, trying to stay afloat.
Across the noisy, blustery room,
a toddler in a high chair meets my gaze and waves
his hand in the air, shouting muffled noises to me
like a shoreline passerby trying to
save the drowning stranger bobbing about
in the rambling, jumbled sea.
I try to focus on his tiny, flailing hand as I
attempt to propel myself ahead.
The pelting elements, though, become too strong.
They wash over me and will soon be only
a puddle on the burnt orange tile floor,
rippling back and forth against my lifeless body.