Epiphany at Breakfast

We’re regulars at Bessie’s Boondocks Diner,
and my sweetie orders steak and eggs for two.
Ravenous tourists crowd the tables
while good ol’ boys belly up to the counter,
bang their mugs for refills, talk fishing and pool.
At the long table, the Brady Bunch orders everything on the menu.
Pungent promises of potatoes O’Brien, blueberry muffins,
Belgian waffles waft as we wait.

At first, I smell just a morsel of hot words
as Bessie dares her line-cook lover.
“How come your feelings are the only ones that matter?”
He tells her he wants to walk out,
jump in his jalopy and burn interstate straight to Mexico.
“Do it,” she says.
Suddenly, I can’t hear my steak sizzle anymore.

When the screen door slams,
heads turn, talk of pool tournaments dies.
Brady eyes widen like silver-dollar pancakes;
small Sara whimpers into her water glass.

In this golden moment, I rise,
coolly stride to the kitchen, don apron and hairnet.
I make our steaks dance on the grill,
fling flapjacks and conjure crisp bacon,
pleased to discover the meaning of life.

—Joey Wojtusik, Three Lakes