The most astounding things

about working in this cafeteria is

knowing you eat dinner here

every Tuesday, bringing your

tray of dishes

to me by six-thirty.

Your burgundy hair makes an entrance

I feel dangerous watching you pass,

wanting you

to raise your head from the plate

you set

before me.

Among your traces of salad and

mashed potatoes

is a strawberry. The top half

that your thumb and fingers touched

still holds a stem. The white center

and ripe outer edges outline marks

from your teeth.

I want to see you take that bite.

I imagine myself a salt-shaker

on your table. I see you

put down your fork and rest

a hand on your abdomen. The meal

you have eaten

resists, for a moment, anything more.

You watch the strawberry on the side

of your plate and delicately pick it

up to your mouth. The fruit’s tiny

hairs touch your lips as your teeth

make an impression for me

to wash away.

Brian Janisse (July ‘17) says, “In a dorm at Western Michigan University, I had a job in the cafeteria washing dishes. One fine young female caught my attention, so I wrote this poem, and used it to flatter her.”

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