She looks at him like he’s likely to
know something about hard work,
like he’s not really there because
he’s hungry and it’s lunchtime,
but because it’s a warm place to sit,
avoiding the sub-zero two-lane
he’s been hitching down since dawn,
leaving behind the ancient barn
and the chore of the morning milking.
She watches him eat like the food
isn’t really food but just another
piece of work that needs doing.
What she doesn’t see is how he’s
watching her right back, watching
how she deftly pushes the special
apple crisp for dessert, always
offering to serve it a la mode;
how she always smiles, totaling
up the check, mentally calculating
her tip and thinking about how
she’s one more tiny step closer
to Ground Hog Day in Jamaica.
Their eyes never really meet
until his hand brushes hers
at the register, and they both
smile kind and genuine smiles
and go their separate ways
ready to get on with it and—
as instructed—have a nice day.