At The Diner With Azalea
March 11, 2010 · Posted in Parenting, Preschoolers, Relationships · Permalink


At the Diner with Azalea

by Bethany Saltman

diner_booth-250x250

We sit in our booth.
She is 3 and I am 40,
so that’s the kind of conversation
we have: simple. A little contrived.

Across from us are two women,
of the same age, both a little rough, sad even,
probably lovers, for a long time. They open their menus
and one silently closes hers: the decision maker.
The other just isn’t sure what she’s in the mood for.
She just had a ham and cheese omelet yesterday
and the day before, too! So it is, she says,
as she closes hers.

Azalea and I argue over something.
Probably apple juice.

I keep kind of staring at the omelet lady.
I can’t help it. I’m intrigued.
Three days in a row is a lot of omelets!
Will she be happy with it when it comes?
My own body buzzes with that wild pleasure
of waiting for something I know I love.

So often it’s something salty
on a plate, but it could also be the warm, wide face
of someone who will share my burden. Or it could be
the quiet that barely exists when I walk into the house
by myself, unencumbered by people or tasks. Or the milky
pee smell of Azalea as she awakens from rest.

Alone—the meal, the husband, the house, or child—
they all turn on their own axis, filling their exact shape
in space. When we meet, it’s not that those bodies change
or enlarge to include me, but something happens between us
and it all disappears. And it’s that blank space
that I really long for between the pages
of every menu, on the brink
of every thing.
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