Girl at the Deli

You walk into this friggin' deli where you've
never been before all summer hot and friggin' angry
and there, behind the counter, she stands,
lips big enough for a zip code,
hair as fine as spun satin and silk
and skin that breaks your heart in two...

you look right at her and stammer, "c..c...c...coffee"
and she says back, "two or three sugars?"
and you stumble again "uh...two...uh...three"
and cotton wads grow in your mouth,
you smile wanly and she smiles back
so unspoiled and athletic and young
and that chemical reaction starts
in your brain and WHAAAAAAAMMM!!!
once again life has possibilities and hope.

She brings you a cup of coffee
and you sip it and want to spit it out
because it tastes like its been there since World War II
but you smile instead because you notice
how fine and bright and clean her eyes speak to you now
and although you want to say "Dear God!
How can you sell this turpentine as coffee?!"
you smile again and gulp it down quickly
and say, "Just what I needed! Hits the spot real well!"
And she smiles and says, "Best for miles around!
How long have you been in these parts?!"
and now you know the chemical explosions
are going off in her brain, too,so you drink some more coffee
that is so toxic and strong and fierce
that your taste buds have all mutinied
but even it cannot kill the wonderful chemicals
that now grant you the absolution, benediction,
and grace of love and suddenly you know
Robert Graves knew what he was talking about:
for here, between the provolone cheese and the Zinfandel wine,
is clear and living proof of the unbroken chain
between the ancient Celts and the current White Goddess.

Bruce Curley
Mount Airy, MD

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