Somerville Bagel Bard Tom Miller writes about his favorite breakfast joint as if it is a modern dance company. Miller is a graduate student in history at Salem State University, reads and writes poetry, and is a retired auto executive.
DANCING AT REDS
There are three,
Dancers at the grills
Moving in carefully choreographed steps.
Their symphony the clattering of plates being stacked,
And cups being rattled,
And tableware being tossed
Into divided trays.
Side by side by side
They sway this way and that.
Backsteps, sidesteps, slidesteps and twirls.
Their costumes of black
Accented by aprons decorated with grease.
They play percussion with spatulas and presses.
Their movements are well practiced
And executed with consummate skill.
Eggs spoonwhipped in a metal bowl.
Pools of batter poured out on the grill.
Splashes of yellow sizzle into omelets.
Steaming peppers and mushrooms, layers of cheese
Folded with a finishing flip of the hand.
Vocals of “behind you”
“Carrie, Laurie, Donna, pick up please!”
Plates filled with delicacies artfully placed
Are staged on the counter for other dancers
Who dressed in plumb tops and black pants
Also glide to and fro on the larger stage.
As they move among the tables,
Delicately balanced plates on their arms,
They too sway and glide, passing each other
In practiced movements.
Stopping only briefly at tables or booths
To scribble an order on a green pad
Or deposit an overflowing plate.
Refill a coffee or a tea.
Intermittently busboys, mostly ignored,
Quietly slip into the scene clearing tables silently
Adapting their steps to the others in the cast.
The audience participates
With movements directed by hostesses.
Sitting, ordering, conversing
Adding their sounds to the music.
The crescendo builds then passes.
Dancers recede from the stage.
The music slows, volume lowers,
Then only the dancers at the grills remain.
Their instruments now scrapers and scrubbers,
Their movements less hurried yet practiced and smooth.
One by one each completes their routine and exits the stage
Till but one remains.
And he turns out the lights
– Tom Miller
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