michael earl craig

 

HAND POLISHED

 

“You were at that round table in the sun,

why did you move?

I said why’d you move,

you were at that nice table, in the sun?

You were just at that table—

I said why’d you move dammit you were in the sun?”

The old man says nothing.

The waitress begins choking him.

The table is shaking. The waitress

has reached across the table to throttle

the old man, which causes to topple

a salt shaker from the table.

“You were just at that table—”

The old man is sheet white.

Each of his hands is like a big clay hand

beside its spoon, beside its fork and knife.

I gather up my stuff

and go over and sit down at the round table.

It’s very bright.

I remove my sweater, my eyes

closed, and flap blackly over apple country.