Five (Occupational) Love Poems

Gary Hawkins


I was a short order cook just beginning to dismantle
my mise en place at the end of my shift
when the bell on the front doors jingled
and a quick, cold wind blew in the pass-through window.

And you were a famished traveller
stamping off your boots
under the fluorescent lights
wanting a plain burger and fries, and the check. 

I was a tangle of wires in the attic
twisted together with fingers and black tape,
running to an old fuse box.

And you were the licensed electrician
bending graceful curves of conduit around the rafters,
tucking a corsage of wire nuts behind a faceplate. 

You had tracked your package all the way from Chengdu,
and then you heard the low purr of my panel van coming down your street. 

I was twiddling my thumbs at the stripmall tax office in February
when you stepped into my cubicle with your shoebox of receipts, like a bouquet.

You worked the CASH ONLY lane on the Thruway,
and I had my window down, ready with the exact $1.35