Women at the Diner: A Poem

Every Thursday for thirty years,
at the same corner table,
they carefully stir sugar,
never a substitute,
into lukewarm tea.
Emily squeezes lemon instead.
She was always the different one,
always wore white after Labor Day,
never came home on time,
sometimes never came home at all,
wore bright red nail lacquer
bright blue eye liner
"I’m going to Athens."
They stop stirring,
even the chairs and tea bags wait.
"His name is Stauros.
He will take me up the Acropolis
past Niki
into the temple.
We fly tonight."
Hatted white heads nod.
Without a word they
replace spoons with forks
scoop up cole slaw and chicken salad.
Emily bites into a kosher dill.
This afternoon
I will buy red lacquer
and blue liner – if
someone will tell me where.

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