7:45. The sun, up, has found and is warming a wall
of the one-floor cube of a building.
Angie, inside, has come from the kitchen
with a basin and cloth to swab her counters.
She likes the cloth’s warm moisture, her day’s first sensation.
Jeff, the café’s owner, has turned on the stove,
and dotted its grill with strips of bacon.
Tuesday, he thinks: biscuits and gravy the lunch-time special.
A long time away. Eggs now. Concentrate.
As he moves them from carton to bowl, he salutes them,
or his sideburn has a last-night’s sleep itch he can’t find.
Reverie! Blare, honk! honk! A truck on Route 33,
a half-mile distant, bugles the village: Wake up, slackers!
8:00. The café open, Warren McPhee, County Judge, retired,
comes in, hangs up his jacket, and centers himself
on his stool at the base of the U-shaped seating.
He might be Hiz Honor again, presiding in court
over a case of waffles versus pancakes.
Others drift in, who take up parts of the paper
or talk of the weather. Angie writes down their orders,
not needing to ask what they want.
Things have changed here, in drastic evolutions.
Jeff and his cousin, one Sunday a decade ago,
rolled on marigold paint over the faded cream walls,
Judge McPhee leaves his tie home, Fridays.
Jelly for toast, in thumb-sized packets,
even comes in non-grape flavors. Go, blackberry!
Strut your stuff, do it, crabapple-peach mélange!
© by Richard Swanson.
Used with the author’s permission.