When All Else Fails

There is always something in my way—

the memory of my mother and father talking

to the television, weather that traps me

inside and breathless, an old boyfriend singing

in my stomach. I fail at loving. To escape,

I often come to this diner, sit in a corner booth,

where I can be distant and unreliable to strangers

instead of you. In this place I don’t have to return embraces.

One night, when the waitress offers me a menu,

her small, harsh hands soften on touching mine.

Here, her hands say, is a woman who, despite

her graciousness, believes no one in the world

can be trusted. I stare at my palms, thinking

I come here too often, while a man walks through

the kitchen door. His eyes are steady, his flushed cheeks

saying he will smash that television, erase clouds, replace

that song. He slides my dinner across the table like an invitation,

as if he knows what I need. As if I believe he could.

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