I am sitting at this table waiting for you,
as I have waited fruitlessly all summer long.
I let them coax me here.
One of my loved ones is faking a bathroom break
to force us to finally talk.
I made the mistake
of mentioning you to them last Christmas.
They called me from the phone booth outside
in February, laughing in hiccups
like my classmates in eighth grade
when they discovered my crush.
Between laughs they explained how they handed
you a valentine with a cheesy limerick,
asking you to meet up with me
for a ballgame in May.
I couldn’t believe you agreed.
Since I had no other prospects
and I thought you seemed nice
I went along with their plan.
Now I sit here growing red,
recounting the flustered plans we hastily made
when she asked me to pay one night.
I cleaned my car and chose my outfit.
You said you’d call when it was time
to pick you up. But the grandfather clock struck
four and we all had to leave. Like a fool
I kept watching an empty
seat all night, in the car and at the stadium.
The next day they convinced me
I had made unclear
plans, and I reluctantly agreed
to go to you. On the drive over
I don’t know why
I didn’t listen to the inside
voice that said, You’ve had enough.
But when I walked up you smiled.
I thought I saw a spark
when you explained your plans
suddenly changed, and you lost
my number. You wrote it down again
and promised we’d go out sometime soon.
After waiting by the phone for weeks
After the corn grew high and fireflies came out
After the pervasive silence crept through my house
After the rejection
After the humiliation
After the embarrassment
I sit here waiting, thinking about what to say,
and you come to wipe down the table.
We both silently watch
the beads of water evaporate.
Finally you say politely, as if I am any other customer,
“Can I get you something?”
I say, “Unsweetened tea please.”
I want to feel the cold, bitter
tannins on my tongue.