At a boat dock restaurant

My party has not arrived when I
get to the restaurant, floating, not
visibly moving on water; the morning is a still pride
begin to a day, unlike yesterday’s rain.

I pass three women, silent as the pain
in a funeral parlor, sitting at an outside
table. I enter the restaurant. It is empty, not
that it bothers me in the least. I

am early, I repeat to my silent self. The tallest of the three
ladies follows me inside. “Do you want to see
a menu?” I say, “I’m with the birthday party.”
She says,  “I expect they will be

here about nine.” “I’m fine,”
I say, aware of our rhymes , four
chairs against the clean wall
beckon me. The tall woman goes out.

The youngest waitress enters; goes about
her business of filling all
the holes in the buffet bar before
she speaks, “I’m happy you came to dine.”

“Glad I could make it,” I say;
ask, “How are you?” She says, “Good.”
I say, “I like good people. Can you
teach me to be good, too?”

She looks at me as though
she has forgotten the line of poetry
she intended to write.
She gives me a second inquiring look and says,

“I guess there are things in all
of us that keep us from being good.
I don’t think I have to teach you them,”
she says. “I’m not good,” I agree

with her as she goes back into the kitchen.
I do not see her again.
The tall woman and a short, plump waitress
pass me, on their way to the kitchen.

Three white ducks swim past on the green water.