To the Waitress Who Spends Tip Money on Books
With every crumpled bill, you dream of library summer sales,
of garage sales, and of flea markets, where piles of books lean dangerously
on tables, every title begging for a new home. You raid grocery store bins
full of publishers’ clearances, and the shelves of used book stores,
where everything is half priced. You love any classic for a quarter,
George Orwell’s 1984 or Fahrenheit 451. You find old receipts
used as bookmarks and trace past notes from students, each
underlined passage a glimpse of their thoughts, of what they thought
they would have to know for a research paper or a final test.
You know that others on your shift use their money for food and bills.
You know that Brooke’s ex hasn’t paid child support in six months
and that Sue, who has waitressed for over thirty years, longs for more time
to spend with her grandchildren, but can’t afford to retire. You know
you should save more for those college textbooks in the fall.
But for now, you splurge. You take home that Stephen King novel,
or Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. You read an old poetry book
by Billy Collins. You like that collection of fairy tale retellings,
where narratives feature brave heroines but their stories
don’t always end happily ever after. You love that when you open
a book, any book, you inhale deeply, smelling everything but grease.
Karen J. Weyant is the author of two poetry chapbooks. Her most recent work has been published in Chautauqua, Chagrin River Review, The Evansville Review, New Plains Review, and Rattle. She lives and writes in northern Pennsylvania near the New York state border.