McKenzie Bonar

Labor Day Lunch

The only restaurant open in town
because everyone’s labor but ours counts.

A family of five sit at a table.

“Waters please,” says the mother.
A woman with long brown hair tied with a rubber band.
She squints at the menu.

The three kids empty their cups,
washing down the free popcorn.

“Are we ready to order?” I ask.
I fondle my waitress book in my hands.
The corners of my mouth aching from fake smiles.

Five cups now filled with only ice
and popcorn baskets with only kernels.

“I don’t think we are eating today,” says the dad.
He doesn’t look up from his hands folded on the table
hiding his palms stained with grease.

The boys play the candy claw machine
while the girl and her parents sit
watching tennis in silence.

I fill their waters in between orders.
their table a sense of relief
in the sea of spilled beer and fries.

I fondle the dollar bills in my apron,
hoping they will pay for this week’s gas,
or the luxury of ordering a pop instead of water.

They leave no tip
but a thank you note
written on an old Walmart receipt.

“It was a beautiful day off for my family.
Thank you. God bless.”


McKenzie Bonar is a student at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, majoring in Education and Creative Writing. Her first poems were recently published in Pendulum. She waits tables at a sports bar.