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Elegy for a Small-Town Waitress

She lived from cigarette

To cigarette. They looped
Bluely through her lungs
On break. She knew
The menu by heart
Like some she served
Knew the Gospel.
There weren't any specials.
If you asked if there were
You weren't from around there,
But then she knew that already.
She couldn't be rushed.
She suffered bad tips
Like a horse suffers flies.
She couldn't care less
What you left her.
She lived back of the diner
In a trailer a long-dead cook
Had pulled back under the pines.
It hadn't moved in so long

Everyone had forgotten it

Could. The years had taken
Aim at the tires,
Closed one eye,
Shot them out.
No one knew whether
She'd ever loved a man
Or been loved by one,
But she had a thing
For drunks and farmers.
She kept the dark
Little hearts
Of their coffees warm.
When she died
They named their first
Special after her
To give men a reason
To keep saying Carolyn.

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