IN THE HEYDAYS OF HIS EYES
(taut jeans dancing)

An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
 
 
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PATTY'S CHARCOAL DRIVE-IN

Barbara Crooker

First job. In tight black shorts and a white bowling shirt, red lipstick and bouncing pony tail, I present each overflowing tray as if it were a banquet. I'm sixteen and college-bound, this job's temporary as the summer sun, but right now, it's the boundaries of my life. After the first few nights of mixed orders and missing cars, the work goes easily. I take out the silver trays and hook them to the windows, inhale the mingled smells of seared meat patties, salty ketchup, rich sweet malteds. The lure of grease drifts through the thick night air. And it's always summer at Patty's Charcoal Drive-in— carloads of blonde-and-tan girls pull up next to red convertibles, boys in black tee shirts and slick hair. Everyone knows what they want. And I wait on them, hoping for tips, loose pieces of silver flung carelessly as the stars. Doo-wop music streams from the jukebox and each night repeats itself, faithful as a steady date. Towards 10 P.M., traffic dwindles. We police the lot, pick up wrappers. The dark pours down, sticky as Coke, but the light from the kitchen gleams like a beacon. A breeze comes up, chasing papers in the far corners of the darkened lot, as if suddenly a cold wind had started to blow straight at me from the future— I read that in a Doris Lessing book— but right now, purse fat with tips the moon sitting like a cheeseburger on a flat black grill, this is enough. Your order please.

 
 
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