Waitress Wanted by Bill Garvey

Waitress Wanted

I was scraping garbage
from dinner plates into a pail
and happened to glance up
at the owner sitting across
from her, nodding, feigning
interest – her smiling, needing
the job, responding to the ad
that said Waitress Wanted
and not a word about whites only,
but this poem isn’t telling you
what you don’t already know.
It’s reminding me I didn’t say
a word as I watched her leave,
watched her open the door
like a camera lens, a blast
of sunlight flooding into the
restaurant, watched him mime
a jump shot – her balled
application spinning toward
the pail just as she turned
to face us for the last time.
I could tell myself I was just
a kid, as powerless as her,
but as I struggle with word
choice and line break, I wonder
if this poem isn’t asking me
something else, like why
I did nothing, or why
I still remember, or what
I would do differently now.


Bill Garvey grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, and is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. He and his wife, Jean, live in Toronto, Ontario and Hacketts Cove, Nova Scotia for equal parts of the year. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Rattle, Cimarron Review, Nixes Mate Review, New Verse News, Margie, 5AM, Slant, Concho River Review, and others.

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