At the Jordan Street Café

by Peg Bresnahan

Looks like a great send-off
at the table next to ours.
Grandma’s ashes in a varnished box
beside a vodka martini
we overhear them say,
she always took with a twist,

saved a forest from developers,
fly-fished in the Yukon, cruised
the Nile, Amazon and Ganges.
At seventy, straddled a hay bale
on her porch after hip surgery
to limber up for a camel ride
across the Gobi and sleep in a yurt.
A good death, they call it.

A good death, you echo
watching them leave, one
with closure
. I laugh, lean
back, relish the razzmatazz buzz,
savory smells and tin ceiling,
then see from your expression
you’ve left this room. Back

to a war I once thought behind us,
where the memories
hot-wire your nightmares.
Corpses, villages clotted with smoke.
Friends blown apart, leaving you
to shoulder their story.
We were in a patrol boat, you whisper.
The children swam toward us.
We never dreamed…we thought
they were waving.

Peg Bresnahan moved from Fish Creek, Wisconsin, to Cedar Mountain, North Carolina, six years ago. She has published one book of poetry, Chasing Light. Recent poems have appeared in Kakalak, Clothes Lines, Western North Carolina Woman and The Innisfree Poetry Journal, an online publication. “After I Played Tic-Tac-Toe with a Chicken” is to be published in Main Street Rag.

About At the Jordan Street Café—One of my sons has a restaurant in Brevard. Observation of the behavior of the patrons and participation in their conversation has proven a great source of material for poetry. This poem provided me with a vehicle to address Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which has afflicted people close to me as well as thousands of other victims of war.