Diner in the Rain

by Camille Hugret

Headlights sweep the back wall of the diner.
A sudden smell of rain
as a man pushes open the swinging door.
In the purpling sky, lightning forks
and a child in the corner booth loudly counts the seconds.
Each clean, damp table holds a vase of blue flowers.

Always, it seems, these blue, plastic flowers
are pushed aside by callous diners.
Without looking up they gesture for seconds,
reading newspapers streaked with rain.
They tightly clasp their dirty forks
like a lover walking out the door.

The sinuous wind rattles the door
and spills a vase of restless flowers
across the plate and knife and fork
laid out like fateful runes before a diner.
In the kitchen, a waitress with a voice like rain
hums a careless rendition of Mahler's second.

Her quick movements that tick away the seconds
are like those of a hummingbird bumping against a glass door—
a sound as soft and futile as the rain
diluting the small bowl of nectar inside a flower.
She hovers over the red and white tablecloths of the diner,
says a prayer for the fragile stems, lays down a clean fork.

In the flour that falls through the sieve she hears her slipping seconds,
as tenuous as a bead of rain on the tine of a fork,
hopeful as the swinging door of a diner.

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