Cake

By Mark Kraushaar

Featured Image: Landscape by Peter von Bemmel 1685-1754

She’s in the first booth left of the planters.

She’s been waiting an hour now.

She’s been waiting at the Watertown Family Buffet

with her little girl who’s dreamed up

some kind of a costume:

giant glasses, backwards cap, taffeta gown

which is clearly for him, for Al who’s

just now arriving, finally, and now

he’s seen them, and now

he’s walking over, and now

he’s standing there, standing there,

husband and father,

or boyfriend and father,

or boyfriend and father figure, except he’s way too late,

he’s too late times two and the party’s over

thank-you, and, no, they’re not having,

not the grin, not the story, not the hug.

The woman gets up, and then, face baggy with patience,

she nods to the girl who scoots out too,

and they exit together.

So over the chips and spilt dip,

over the drained Pepsi and the big white cake

with “Al” in caps and quotes

he watches them go,

looks out at the parking lot,

opens his book.

Here’s the waitress with her pad and pen.

And what in hell is he reading?


Mark Kraushaar has worked as a pipe welder, wig salesman, English teacher, flute
instructor, and registered nurse. He has new work forthcoming from Alaska Review,
Ploughshares, and The Hudson Review, and his full-length collection, Falling Brick
Kills Local Man, published by the University of Wisconsin Press, won the 2009
Felix Pollak Prize.

Originally published in NOR Spring 2010.

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