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Demon from St. Louis by David Francis

Lonely waitress from St. Louis
sits in the continuous booth
facing me;
she has a greeting smile
for the door,
a trick of the trade,
truck-stop,
now a hardened mask.
“It’s too dangerous up there.”
“How long you lived in Texas?”
“Thirty years.”
“You’re a Texan, then.”
“I’m from Show Me!”
OK, I back off.
“Are you from here?”
“No, I’m visiting my mom.”
“I wish my mother was still alive.”
She glances at me
from her mask,
eyes like sparkles in quartz.
“Well, this used to be
the murder capital of the world.”
She nods, unmoved
by the statistic.
She’s still propelled
from the danger
of St. Louis.
“All the cities are dangerous,” I offer.
She nods, unfazed.
Still on the run
from St. Louis.
“I went through there on the Amtrak...
at night.”
“The train station is good,”
she says with
approbation.
“The Midwest,” I sigh.
“It’s a different world.”
She nods, her expression
milder.
Her hardened mask
from a hardscrabble life.
She rises
and walks back up front.
I’m left thinking
about the mask
of someone dear to me.
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