i spent that summer waitressing
at the pub down in poppy. it was always tired
fathers drinking bud light in baseball hats,
showing me a sleeve of tattoos they got in
the army or explaining rules to a sport i never
bothered to learn. i was the only run girl
who could move fast between multiple sections,
two balance beam arms carting plates of
steak tips and chorizo, wiping up the rings
of condensation, shucking aluminum cans still
leaking cheap beer into the bin. i loved the townies,
in a distant kind of way, loved seeing them come in
still in their oil-charged coveralls from work, noticing
they got their beard trimmed or their glasses fixed
or that there was a new grand baby or niece or nephew.
i cooed at photos and topped off their drinks, thought
man, how lonely must someone be in their real life
to spend every night at a bar like this?
but after work i shirked out the back door shadowy
in my escape and rode my bike home.
it was always empty aside from the cicadas singing
out under the deck, noise drowned away by an air
conditioner still leaking rain water from summers before.
i pulled the metal cap of a beer off with my teeth and
stood in the light of the refrigerator, feet aching with
their own heartbeat, and told no one of my adventures.