(Self) Portrait of a Waitress

Jumbo Jet
they called her –
fast on her feet,
zooming in,
swooping up trays,
delivering with flight-
attendant flair.

When did she turn
to autopilot,
stop paying attention
to her destination?

Didn’t she know
she was set
on a crash course,
headed for disaster?

Tried to warn her,
wake her from stupor;
told me she’d reset
but danger remains.

She’s cruising now –
no longer able
to soar – trapped
in a treacherous game.

Waits tables,
tries to keep
a clean house,
caters to others,
lends an ear,
has squeezed
every drop of self
into a low flying life

needs to land
a space of her own,
with room to breathe;
take life in shorter
intervals, refill
her jets.

(Portrait of a Waitress was originally written in 2016. Image a self portrait. Note: once upon a time, I was a waitress, whom the cooks referred to as “Jumbo Jet”. I waitressed my way through university, and a few rough spots in life. While I gave up the job, the metaphor of ‘waiting’ continued to be a theme in my dreams for many years after.)


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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

49 thoughts on “(Self) Portrait of a Waitress”

  1. “While I gave up the job, the metaphor of β€˜waiting’ continued to be a theme in my dreams for many years after” – Gosh, there’s so much left to the imagination in this one line. Sounds like the beginning of an exciting tale.

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  2. Once again VJ you have nailed it…you have painted a picture in words of a woman – millions of women – who are played out…struggling, and yet they keep on going…and everyone around them keeps on taking. Love the images:)

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  3. Wow. I really like this and hearing you read it brings it home. “Squeezed every drop of self…” – I read that part over and over. Waiting on everyone all the time in some way, shape or form. It’s like being on alert. It’s exhausting. Getting to the last stanza – now that’s an achievement.

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  4. Love that you read your poetry. I play a little game: read it myself first, then listen to your reading. Fun to hear your emphasis and pauses in contrast to how I “read” it in my mind!

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      1. Yes, it does change….My “reading” is more grouchy than your voice ( think that grouchy old Robert Frost recording of “Fences make good neighbors”…;-) I pick up more humor that I might have missed when I listen, and also I like your tempo changes. Such a good poem either way, but so much fun to hear the author. Way back in the 80s I heard Tillie Olsen, Gwendolyn Brooks and Mae Sarton live. Especially hearing Brooks read “We Cool We” really made me realize how much fun the hearing of poetry is. Here’s a link for fun: https://apnews.com/article/dc553ba71d9544ec74d382aae0865519


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  5. I really like listening to you read your poetry, as it adds more depth. I really liked the inflection and pause at …danger remains. I read it first and of course did not pause there the way you did.

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