There but for fortune
Alice lives somewhere in East Phoenix
alone now that kids have flown and Roy died.
She still works in a diner serving apple pie,
snappy comebacks and the occasional song.
Retirement made her buggy, so she covers
the lunch shift or whatever fill-in comes up.
Every dime of every tip goes in the bank
for her kids. Social security takes up the rest.
There was a time, we can all vouch for this,
when a step to the left or the right might’ve
made all the difference between another life
or this one, far from other roads she traveled.
Late nights when the desert air comes in cool
she has a glass of wine and ponders, what if?
smokes a joint and laughs at silly old sitcoms,
at herself, until the edge of the sky turns pink.
Maybe it was Roy who saved her, her kids,
or the bruises she carried from hoping hard.
Her suitcase in the closet for good, she kisses
her rosary, rubs the Budai, and sleeps, saved.