Walter Bibikow

Cold and dark in the morning,
talk comes at a price.
It is a bargain with the waitress
and the diners get what they need.
The eggs are served with sympathy
for another birthday missed.
The road is more than miles for
the trucker who takes them over hard.
Booth number 9 is an omelet and oatmeal.
A preacher and acolyte looking for a church.
The preacher’s collar is frayed and yellowed
in service to a god who speaks too softly.
At the table by the door farmers drink
coffee and talk of weather, tractors, prices.
They have the look of a dying breed,
not because they are old –
their sons are off to college,
the army, the city, anywhere else.
Daughters will wait,
not one of them will marry a farmer.
A young couple passing through
sits in number 8, close almost huddled.
The boy counts coins, his girl looks cold.
The waitress brings hot tea,
“It’s on the house honey.” They order toast
to share, she slips ham onto to the
plate when the cook’s not looking,
“I’ll take that outta your tips.”
He never does.
The woman at the end of the counter
tattoos a glass with her lips.
She is the blue plate special, one egg,
one pancake, two strips of hard salty bacon.
The long night gives her an appetite for
comfort and something real before going home
to wash the scent of stale cologne from her hair.
Street lights go out.
The sun promises warmth.
Diners pay bills, homage, thanks,
and go out to live in the light.
The waitress cleans tables,
counts her tips.
She floats from counter to table
to booth serving coffee water eggs toast
and some things not on the menu.
She takes their orders brings them what they need,
and all of this beneath a sign that says EAT.
It’s story time at The Bar…come in and tell yours.