Harry Goes to Lunch

It's just a counter lunch, you know.  A place
to belly-up at noon and grab a bite.
I come here often.  Foods not bad.  The soup
is always hot, and Mary makes some pies
that can't be beat.  I know it's cheaper from
a sack, but then I'd sit at work.  When times
are tight, I eat at work—a sandwich and
an apple with some sour coffee bought
from the machine.  But mostly I come here.
I sit here every noon two stools from                                
the end.  The waitress (There she is. Her name
is Lisa.) always asks me how it goes
and pours my coffee on the spot.  Yes, she's
the girl I've told you of, or woman I 
should say.  She's twenty-eight, you know.  Oh no,
I've never told her how I feel, and please,
if you should come without me here, if so
please never say a word about the things
I've said.  I may someday.  Who knows?  For now
it's just enough to come here everyday.                              
Well, here she is now with the menu.  See,
I told you how she pours the coffee first.
She knows just what I like she does.  Yes, you
could get the soup. It's good.  Their rubens, too
are excellent, or anything you choose
is certain to be good…It's just the way
she takes your order…smiles every time…
so warm and nice.  She never passes by
without a pleasant thing to say.  Oh sure, 
she's nice to other customers, but there—                      
that's only business.  She smiles just
to bring them back.  As I just said, someday,
perhaps, I'll ask her out.  Who knows?  She might 
say yes.  And that would surely be a start.
My mother warned me once to never let
a woman run my life.  I mostly guess
that she was right.  That women only want
your money, but my Lisa's not that way.
Though I believed her once, my mother now's
been dead for twenty years and often in                            
the night I think it would be nice to have
someone to share with, watch T.V., or just
to talk.  Besides, my mother married once
and it was good enough for her.  But then
when Dad was living, Mother always was 
so very hesitant to question what
he did.  I guess I'd ask her if I could.
There's loneliness in life alone.  But then
I'd have to ask Patz for a raise to make
ends meet.  He'd look at me as if I'd lost                            
my mind.  " A raise?!" he'd say, "I can't afford
a raise.  You're lucky that you've got a job!"
He'd turn and walk away and leave me there
just leaning on my broom and feeling like 
a fool.  I guess it's just as well I live
alone.  It's something I've grown used to all
these years.  I'm such a fool!  She'd want a house
and kids.  I'd want them too!  Some comfort in
my life.
                 It's time that we got back to work.
Was just a thought of mine to bring you by                      
to see the woman that I talk about.
I know she's fairly young for me, but all 
I ask is sometime in my life to share
a home with someone.  No.  I've never talked
to her except to give my order, and
such nonsense that so often goes between
two people when they meet.  She doesn't know.
I guess my fear is that she'd laugh if she
found out.  Yes, I can see it now.  Such talk
would just embarrass both of us. The red                        
would flush her throat and cheeks—the way I see
them in the summer kitchen heat, and me
I'd sit here fumbling with my cup;  the things
I meant to say forgotten—gone!  Sometimes
it's best to leave your dreams just where they are.

—C. Dahlen, Siren, WI