waitress licensed lisa f young
The Waitress
by Barbara Eknoian

It’s 2 a.m. at The Star Diner.
The waitress pours coffee
for the cab driver
at the counter on his break.
She banters with her customers
about politics and local gossip.
She’s a new widow who never
had to work before,
with a few years left to retirement.
Her family has scattered:
A daughter moved across country,
her son joined the Merchant Marines.
The waitress raises a teenage son
alone and worries
that she’s lost control.
She used to shop at elegant stores;
now she hurries home to wash
her uniform for next night’s shift.
She used to buy filet mignon
from Sam the butcher;
now she serves franks and beans.
Customers have no idea
that their pleasant waitress,
who trades quips with them nightly,
is struggling to get by.
She is good at hiding her fear.
When she gets home,
she’ll sit in the recliner,
rest her legs, and count out
the sparse tips from her pockets.

PHOTO: “The Waitress” by Lisa F. Young, used by permission. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poem is about my mother, who had to work as a waitress just before retirement, when she became a widow. This fact makes me think about other waitresses that now have to be brave and work, regardless of the pandemic, because it is necessary to make a living.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Eknoian’s work has appeared in Pearl, Chiron Review, Cadence Collective Anthology, Red Shift, and Silver Birch Press’s Silver, Green, Summer, and Self-Portrait anthologies. She has been twice-nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has attended Donna Hilbert’s poetry workshop for 30 years.  Her recent novel, Hearts on Bergenline Avenue, is available at Amazon. She lives in La Mirada, CA with her extended family, where there is always room at the inn.