Even with Morning Still Working the Dark at 6:05 and a few long-faced raindrops on the windshield, the immense electric sign on Lake Michigan Drive has flashed on. Light has lunged in all directions, to boast that the sun is already risen at Mr. Burger, filtering through branches across the lot. Forget the fuzzy wonders eggs may become, for even as I shift into park, I know that the cook is probably picking up an egg or clicking it on the rim of a bowl, sometimes two at a time, eggs sloshing, quietly whooping since they will soon be on my plate. At the end of breakfast toast is sure to push the yolk around before sopping it up. Slamming the car door, I know that the sunny side will soon appear before me, in the midst of white clouds that crisp brown at the edges. On the side two slices of bacon are welcome anytime to break in, while the creed of the coffee pot keeps it all straight, the shell of a new day breaking around me. In the big, wide windows lighting my parking space, already the man who beat me to the door is stretching his arms over his head, not knowing that he is cracking the dawn. While he awakens, I’m sure his dreams stay small as the bluster of silverware, while at the grill, the head cook stands amidst the rustling, the top of his bald head, a perfect sphere—a shiny reminder of his unspoken promise to deliver.
No Sunny-Side-Up Ruminations but pushing toast about at Mr. Burger-- soaking up the yolk, I settle on sips of coffee and spotting a robin high on a power line outside the window, then thinking—whatever color sun it developed from in the shell— there must have been dark clouds sealed in—to inure the bird to this world’s tragedies or guard against them, for suddenly— as the robin tufts up feathers fifteen feet above the flying cars— instinct points its beak both ways four or five times for a gap in traffic before, finally, it flicks out wings and swoops across the street, careful not to be struck by false security, say— some sky-blue shelled panel truck.
A Busboy Fully Mechanized He’d Have You Believe and Always in a Hurry his legs timekeepers, his long arms flicking forth and back fast as windshield wipers in the same rapid beat which he’ll run a washcloth over a table a moment later. His big hands gobble up dirty plates and cups in a sleight of hand, pulling in salt and pepper where those small towers had ventured and sets them straight about where they should be—by the silver napkin castle, head jerking to each side, the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up short. His dirty plate muscles popping out show he’s all business, the plates in no time scraped fast with a spatula and piled in a big plastic tub and pushed in a rolling cart galloping over a raised spot in the carpet, disappearing a moment into the heart of the kitchen no customers sees, where you’d think maybe he’d concede to a moment of fatigue, but quickly he’s out again, a windup man, tireless in avoiding eyes, his washcloth smothering a spot of food as it sweats out another table, his arms sweeping back and forth, unhindered each day by the gravity of worry.
The poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2007-2010, Rodney Torreson’s third full-length collection of poetry, THE JUKEBOX WAS THE JURY OF THEIR LOVE, was issued by Finishing Line Press in 2019. In addition, Torreson has new poems forthcoming in AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POETRY, MAIN STREET RAG, NORTH DAKOTA QUARTERLY, PATERSON LITERARY REVIEW, and STREETLIGHT.