Lamentations Of A Bus Girl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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“Come on, baby, light my fire!”
says the guy at the booth
when I go to light the candle on his table.
What do you say to that?
His companions laugh,
he's so clever.
Maybe,
if two other customers hadn't just said the same thing.
I laugh obligingly,
wishing I could strangle the creep with his own
white napkin,
my smile all teeth, no eyes.
Just like I did earlier
when he asked me if the small gold key
I wear around my neck was to my front door,
or my heart.
What do you say to that?
Do I have a bloody keyhole gaping in my chest?
A padlock hanging off my skin?
That would be a heavy piercing.
Thank you for trying to make me feel
more comfortable with my job,
working with people every day.
I must be a xenophobe,
working in a successful restaurant.
It's a great public service that I do:
refilling water glasses (“No ice, please. Thanks.”)
clearing heavy plates from tables too long for my arms
navigating around Chianti glasses
full of red wine,
noting the white and beige apparel around the table;
tossing dish after dish of Grandma Jean's, ­Cioppino, Steak
(“I said rare, this is still bloody. Take it back, now.”)
and Caesar salads into the huge trash bucket
that I will later ask the dishwasher to help me take out
because it's too heavy to do all by my lonesome;
setting tables, the white butcher paper on the white tablecloths,
set just so, and the four white napkins.
folded the night before by the hostess and the waiters,
with the silverware: knife, blade facing in on the right,
small salad fork on the left,
large main course fork in the middle;
and last, putting up with customers who think they're funny.
$8.50 an hour,
plus tips, and sore joints at the end of the night
are thrown in free of charge.

No, I won't light your fire,
and no,
this is not the key to my heart.
It's a key.
And this is my job:
lighting candles.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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mensa4life said...
Feb. 25, 2010 at 12:21 am
i really loved this piece. great voice!
 
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