Lost Waiters
Greg van Eekhout


On this street corner
where shoes drum pavement like Mongol hordes
and revolving doors spin like carwash buffers,
he awakens with a quiet start.

Holding aloft a tray of beef medallions
and asparagus spears buttered in gold
and golden potato scallops shaved paper-thin,
aromas swirling in the air like genies
fleeing their bottles,
his tuxedo jacket, black as before creation,
his eyebrows, patient and unperturbed.

His calm is a lie
and his heart pounds beneath his immaculate white shirt
and a strand of sweat trickles down his starched sleeve.

Here with his tray, not knowing his name, or his social security number, or the way he likes his tea.

But he knows what he is.
For in all this nightmare of erasure, amid the blare of taxi horns and the whistles of street cops,
one concern remains, gleaming
bright as a steak knife:

Whose order is this? And where's their table?




About the Author:

Greg van Eekhout's stories have appeared in Asimov's, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, and other fine short fiction venues. His story "In the Late December" was a Nebula nominee. He lives in Tempe, Arizona, where he takes Kung Fu lessons, overtips wait staff, and chronicles his various obsessions at his blog. 


Poem 2006 Greg van Eekhout.