the waiting mattered

I waited at 3am, Good Earth in my hands,
centuries whispering wisdom, I am also human,
Marlboro swirls collecting in my pajamas,
time trickling forward with unfulfilled yearning.

Years passed. I handed out hamburgers
and conversation to faces I will never forget,
names I never knew. I paced State St.
in a half-sized apron, first in the morning,
then long after dark, pockets full of gratitude
that I knew three Heinekens were expected
when his newspaper opened to the Sports page,
and courtesy ought always to be served with food.

I turned to meet my reflection every time
my profile passed the salad case glass, looking for nothing
in particular, and whether I, at twenty something,
shunning “higher work” still looked like the bright,
cute one. In other hours, I wrote all the words
filling my head, all but the few reserved.

Two children later, embraced in a marriage I love,
but a foreign thing none the less,
I sit in the dust beside the boxed of those years,
half in the bedroom closet, spirals piled in my lap,
rereading the emptying of my mind, the making room.
In the crawl of those written-of hours,
I knew and I didn’t know, the waiting mattered.

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