The kitchen staff left a slice of cake out.
all the while, stacking chairs on tables,
scraping the grill,
through the ravenous inhale
of the vacuum cleaner,
it sits like an unscaled peak
framed in the lights of the pass-through.
lost crayons go into a cigar box
and the coins swept
from the verges and corners
go into an envelope
which you assume gets added
into everyone else’s tips
you told the boss you can’t sleep at night
all the noises in your apartment
don’t make any sense in darkness:
toilets gurgling after midnight,
floorboards creaking without footsteps,
the sadistic periods of daylight savings time.
you tried life in an office – waking into dark
wasting the light shuffling paper
cringing into your damp coat
to return alone in after nightfall to home.
you work alone with the music off
telling time by the dishwasher cycle.
police and fire trucks keep you safe
sirens driving away monsters and criminals.
you chew a carrot
emptying the grease trap
pouring the slop bucket into the sink
eschewing those heavy foods
to keep your head light and open.
you only own a phone
because your brother bought it for you
then your nephew programmed it
at Christmas was a unique ringtone
for every family member.
your brother calls you at 6:00 AM – you answer
same with midnight and noon:
do you ever sleep, he asks.
only when I close my eyes.
work lasts until the eastern sky gets light.
if the food deliveries are early
you wait in the coat closet
warmed by lost wool coats
and ballcaps proclaiming loyalty
to other city’s sports teams.
you came into the restaurant alone
you’ll leave alone
but that cake will be gone
consumed with love
and the plate and fork cleaned and put away.