River Rich

One would think there’d be nothing hard
to say once you’ve arrived
at the river that haunted you for years,
now the front yard of your employment.
You engage in weeding thistle
from its rocky banks, leave lanky mullein
though someone’s been breaking off the seedy head.
Inside the old steam plant, new with community,
you enact newfound ineptitudes,
no longer resident expert of an arcane field
of words and rules that never helped you
better tally night’s profit, fairly divvy tips,
sell concert tickets, juggle small town/
small office alliances.
The art of being novice is not simple.
How many times must you ask, must they repeat,
the proper string of clicks, the ratios of coffee
or powdered lemonade to water?
Undrunk, the river rolls by.
The forgotten pitcher of a hot July wedding
handed over with grace for you to refill
must be received with gratitude, humility,
with memory of every well-tipped waitress
of your short stint in middle class life
in which bills were not your 3 am,
your sunrise thought. (The old game:
you don’t know what you’ve got.)
To live in the land of the river rich
you learn to serve them, entertain.
Later, on a whim, on a day so cool
and bright that you feel rich despite
the pre-order checkbook glance—
you sit on a patio by the river. You write,
foolishly order fish, sip one martini full of honey
to celebrate the fact there are beekeepers
you will meet in the morning
for their annual gathering, their water goblets
and vats of lemonade already waiting
in the kitchen and conference rooms next door.
In black dress, near black dressed tables
you smoothed with your own palms,
you will greet them with a smile.
Eager to improve your single backyard hive,
in doorways, you will take notes
on their lovely, troubled lives.


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