The Restaurant

Talk about eyes in back of your head!

Talk about eyes in back of your head!

In reading Shurin this morning

he mentioned “Patchwork Paths”

of sunlight or something––it leaves

me at the moment––I thought

of the restaurant I grew up in

and the floors with a patchwork

made up of black and white tiles

like argyle socks. Overhead were

the fans, whirring their summer-heated air

over the customers who brushed at flies,

that came, as though welcomed, through

the front door. It was open wide,

with a banging screen door that kept out

the meekest of the flying creatures.

Hanging from the fans , yellow sticky tape

covered with dead and dying flies

mistakenly thinking of sweets when flying by.

The counter was filled with regulars, eating

our blue plate specials–––meat loaf

and mashed potatoes, beef roast and mashed,

macaroni and cheese, goulash, served

with a slice of white bread and a pat of butter.

All for fifty cents. My gram cooking in the back,

white tented hat on her sweating head,

mother waitressing out in front on her lunch

hour from the lawyer’s office.

The men wore yellowed straw hats, replacements

for their felt fedoras in the winter. White shirts

that started out the day starched so stiff, you

could slide pennies down the sleeves, now

softened and sweat-stained showing off their

sleeveless undershirts through the damp fabric.

There was the yellow cat we called Toby until

he came home with six kittens all nursing

from her swollen faucets, mewing and soon

running all over the kitchen and back alley.

Mother would go back to work after the

lunchtime rush and gram would take me

upstairs in the quiet storage area for my nap.

The room was filled with tables and chairs

as well as pieces of broken sign, black

letters stacked like records on a table.

There were pictures of relatives from Greece,

my gram’s friend, Ernie, brought with him

on the boat from Europe, a stiff looking

couple dressed in black, staring into

the camera, framed in giilded wood. I tried

not to look at it so I turned my back

but sometimes I could still feel their black

eyes boring into me.

Ernie died and the restaurant was sold.

Gram had to learn all over again how to cook

for three people and we had a lot of left-overs

in the beginning. We grew older in this house

until I was grown and married with a baby

of my own. I always remembered the fly-paper

and the picture of the Greek relatives though.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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