In anticipation of guests, the hostess – always bent on pleasing – carefully selects the script, ascribes roles, envisions an afternoon of light repartee, peppered with philosophical pondering – satisfactory entertainment.
They’re just family, after all, she tells herself, confident in the outcome, fatally smug.
Crowd arriving, she fails to read disinterest in eyes, politely attempts to orchestrate interactions, while they cast about, calculating, shunning protocols of etiquette, dispersing in an unsettling way, then returning, savagely encircling their prey.
They’re just family, after all, she tells herself, panic rising, confusion overriding confidence.
Unprepared to defend herself – bears no arms but the giving type – she ducks, grasps, attempts retreat from the onslaught of vindictive agendas, but the wall of stored grievances, spotlighting a history of injustices, corners her, hopelessness in its wake.
They’re just family, after all, she tells herself, knowing full well the legacy of pain.
It’s friends, in the end, who save her – a surefooted cavalry, bearing the swords of understanding, compassion their war cry – reigning in the once-invited, now betraying guests – objective hearts demanding an end to the fray.
They’re just family, after all, she tells them, tells herself, composure a mere thread.
Tables turned, the offenders now plead for forgiveness, beg for help, pretend the slights were unintentional, harmless, expect their hostess to step over the bloodied and slain bits of herself, and with benevolence, restore her love for them again.
They’re just family, after all, she says weakly, the torn script of her expectations scattered.
(My art, entitled She Stands In the Middle of It All. This poem first appeared May, 2016)
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 – over-sized turbo-lacking under-fuelled, 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.)