Literary Yard

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‘A Weary Waiter Pushes Her Body Forward’ and other poems

By: Leigh-Anne Burley

A Weary Waiter Pushes Her Body Forward

A weary single-parent waiter
pushes her body forward
like a cart laden with
table linens and wares.

She tip-toes on a high wire
without a safety net to
balance bills and schedules.

Impatient diners with stacked
privileges and meager tips
propel subsistence servers
hauling dirty dishes and
soiled linens.

Weary waitpersons push
their bodies forward
like a pack of mules
on a narrow mountain trail
without a guardrail.

A Young Woman Desires a Leather Purse

A young woman wearing a secondhand coat stands
outside a department store window
admiring a red Versace handbag.
Jane deems one good leather purse
as a rite of passage and
prays for that once-in-a-lifetime sale.
After work at Sears, Jane rides the bus to Bloor-Yorkville in Toronto
to walk past the high-end shops of Luis Vuitton,
Prada, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Vera Wang.

Inside the store, a sleek woman in a Vera Wang blue print dress and
Elizabeth Tang’s cream-colored high heels
regards Jane’s mousey brown hair cut in a plain bob,
drab beige coat, and
chipped, faux leather purse tucked under her arm.
Aware of being stared at,
Jane looks up at Ellen clutching her supple, quilted, black,
leather Chanel bag closer to her trim body.

Jane hurries away to catch the bus
to her studio apartment in Rosedale,
knowing she will return to Bloor-Yorkdale again and again
until the day she steps inside and owns the scent of leather.

Paying for Dinner

A family gathers around an upscale restaurant table, ending the meal with smiles and memories. A single mother waives her credit card to pay for dinner like a proud soldier of hard-won battles.
She is exhausted from rushing to unlimited classes, late-night exam cramming, and minimum-wage work. Running home to feed, bathe, and tuck her son in with a bedtime story, she worries she is not enough and not there enough.
Seated beside her high school graduating son, looking around at the family she loves, knowing together they made it through steep gully shadows, biting cold headwinds, and up onto a cornucopia tableland.

Pine Cones’ Flamingo Dance

Ruffled pine cones
on needle carpets,
flamingo dancing

Woody heads awake from
your prickly dreams and
popping seeds.

Breeze’s rock progeny
under guardian trees,
gametophyte pollen seeps into strobili.

Music fades, and lights dim as
a frantic flamingo dance
weaves cloud blankets
over crackling conic children

Embryos’ expectations
cradling revelations of tough seeds fleeing
flamingo dancers’ percussion feet
towards the foot of a sunny hill.

Mr. Beaujon and the Walled Exit

Mr. Beaujon comes to a walled exit
where a sign read
Go Around Another Way.

Mr. Beaujon comes to
more walled exits.
Not making a sound,
he sticks around.

The sun beats down,
moons grow fat, and
moons shrink thin.
Mr. Beaujon must find
the door into the land of
Good and Plenty.

Much to his surprise,
his naked eye does surmise
tiny green shoots in
cracks of walls
like victory flags
fluttering in the breeze.

Mr. Beaujon pushes his fist
against the crumbling exit
creating an opening
to let the now-old man
into his land of
Good and Plenty.

Plaster Peels in the Universe

Plaster peels at the Main and Front Street intersection
when we emerged from our downy wombs
after our mothers’ backs and legs ached
from the groans of slingshot vaginas

arching across tombs and stars
into fissures of a fractured universe.


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